Holloway shared his vision of murals


Building up to restoration
News-Sentinel photo by Ellie Bogue

Building up to restoration
Scaffolding at the Allen County Courthouse, as seen from a bird's-eye view, was put in place to restore the rotunda murals.
Muralist George Holloway described in his own words the stories behind the four rotunda murals in the Allen County Courthouse. The next time you visit, see how many of these details you can identify:

"Law and Order"

The sketch on the north arch symbolizes a community that is governed by just laws tempered by mercy. Under such conditions the people are content and prosperous, and commerce and the manufacturers, arts and science flourish.

In the center of the arch is the figure of the Law, with open book of the code in her lap, and holding in either hand the tables of the God-given law. To (Law's right) is the figure symbolizing Justice, holding the flaming sword and scales, and on (Law's) left is the figure of Mercy placing a restraining hand upon the lap of the Law.

On one side of the arch are symbolized by appropriate figures, the Industries. Agriculture is typified by the husbandman, holding in his hand the scythe, and with a sheaf of grain on his side, while Commerce is pointing out to him a market for his produce in lands across the sea.

Below are the figures bringing the products of the soil to the wharf. In front, is the figure with a distaff, symbolic of the industry of weaving, and in the foreground is the blacksmith standing beside an anvil, with a sledgehammer in his hand, and by his side a machinist is testing with a hammer a cog-wheel for flaws. The group symbolizes Manufactures in general.

On the other side of the arch, in the foreground, are shown the sister arts of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The architect with his plan across his knee and dividers in his hand, is discussing with the Painter and Sculptor the decorations of his building.

To the side of them a figure reading a book symbolizes Literature, and next to her Poetry with inspired airs in reciting her verses. To the right of the group of Literature, Music is represented by two figures, one playing on the pipes and the other on the lyre.

The whole subject is treated classically, and in the abstract.

"Joy and Peace"

The subject of the east panel is peace and prosperity.

In the center of the arch is the white robed, flower-crowned figure of Peace in a golden chariot, garlanded with flowers, and twined with fruit and olive branches, drawn over the rose-tinted clouds with white horses festooned with flowers and leaves. Floating alongside the chariot of Peace are her handmaidens, all robed in white, scattering flowers over the sunlit earth.

Below, to the right in the flower-decked valley among the green trees youths and maidens are dancing to the music of the shepherd's pipe. Beyond in the sunlight the flocks are grazing, in the background runs a train of purple hills.

On the left side of the arch winding down the sunlit slope through the trees to the cool shade of the foreground, is Ceres, the Goddess of Earth's Fruitfulness. At the head of the procession, two youths are leading with festoons of flowers a white bull garlanded with green leaves. On either side are maidens playing on musical instruments. All is joy and happiness, peace and plenty.

"Despotism"

The subject of the south panel is despotism and anarchy.

Despotism in which the whim of an individual is the supreme law, where the knout and ax are yielded without the thought of justice, and discontent and anarchy are rampant.

In the center of the arch under an architectural canopy lies reclining on a gilded couch, the Despot, a sensual animal type, a Nero, surrounded by his henchmen and guard; a woman on bended knee pleading for justice, for her daughter's honor, for her own honor, in vain. A soldier lays his hand roughly on her shoulder and drags her away to be lashed.

Below to the right of the center, prisoners in chains are being dragged to the dungeon or knout, old men and youths and fair maidens. The executioner applies the lash to the brawny shoulders of a strong man, who lies in agony. The people crowd around, awestruck and horrified, some with stolid faces biding their time, others more reckless and with threatening look and gestures.

On the left side a wild crowd of people is clamoring for justice; in the background others are beginning to apply the torch, the people are in arms, the revolt is on and anarchy follows in its path.

"War"

Following in the train of lawlessness, war is shown upon the west panel. As peace and prosperity are the natural outcome of law and order, so is war and devastation the inevitable results of despotism and anarchy.

In the center of the arch is the genius of War in an armored chariot drawn by wild horses and fiends, with serpent-entwined hair and pendulous breasts. In the background riding with the dark green clouds across the lurid sky lighted up with the flame of the burning city, are Death, Pestilence and Devastation, typified by appropriate figures below.

Coming from either side, the two armies are clashing together. The people are gaining, the forces of Heaven lend their aid and shadowy figures from the dark clouds are twirling thunderbolts (that) compel the enemy to fall back, and be trampled under the feet of the horses of those following -- the people rush in with redoubled force -- victory will be theirs. Old men and women are wailing over the dead bodies of loved ones. A mother clasps her son to her breast while with the other hand she buckles on his sword, a husband embraces his wife and child while moving on to battle. The dead and wounded, and frightened groups of women and children fill the foreground.

-- Source: Illustrated Guide to the Allen County Courthouse

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