Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Octagon Sabrina - Part 2


The following text is from an email I received from Bruce Becker regarding the Octagon Sabrina pictured above. Bruce’s reply clearly answers the question raised on the Amherst website whether the Roosevelt Island Sabrina was “the” Sabrina. Per the response below it is a recasting.

“Sabrina is a mythic river goddess, originally sculpted by the the Scottish sculptor William Calder Marshall in 1845. She was inspired by John Milton's poem titled Sabrina Fair which can be found at the following weblink:

Marshall's original statue was made of plaster and in 1847 he made a marble copy. Both were exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Sabrina's location at the Octagon overlooking the East River is a perfect setting for this river goddess to "listen and save", augmenting the island's interesting collection of sculpture along the west promenade.

Sabrina is also the patron goddess of Amherst College. A metal casting of her, made by the J.L. Mott Iron Works of New York City, was given to the college by Massachusetts Lieut. Governor Joel Hayden in 1957. The statue was located adjacent to The Octagon building on the Amherst campus until 1885. Roosevelt Island's installation reestablishes the historic setting of Sabrina adjacent to an Octagonal building.

Sabrina has been installed at a number of other projects designed by Becker and Becker over the past 15 years. Copies can be found at the courtyard of a New York City Housing Authority project at Avenue D and 8th Street in Manhattan, the Times Square Hotel, Urban Horizons (the former Morrisania Hospital) in the Bronx, Avalon Grove in Stamford, The Crescent Building in Bridgeport and The Marvin in Norwalk, CT. None of these installations incorporate the original statue which has been the object of class rivalries at Amherst College.

The castings were made from a mold of 19th Century casting I locating in Rochester Vermont that was in perfect condition. The Roosevelt Island installation is the first casting made of solid bronze and is a stunning setting for her, adjacent to the river and The Octagon.


If I was an Amherst student or alumni I’d ask Mr. Becker to provide pictures of these other Sabrina’s as a web page collage would be pretty cool. For us Roosevelt Island residents we thank Bruce for our Sabrina as it really is a stunning piece.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, it's really a neat story. I've linked to you again on