Join Tamara Alexander's Campaign for Ruth
Belmont Mansion provided the setting and inspiration for three stories written by successful novelist Tamera Alexander. Now, the site is pleased to be chosen by this gracious author as the recipient of a dollar for dollar match pledged by Mrs. Alexander towards a fundraising campaign designated to conserve one of the most significant original pieces of statuary in the house. Mrs. Alexander is asking you to join her, as a friend, as a supporter of Belmont Mansion, or simply as someone who values this unique sculpture.
Ruth Gleaning is unquestionably the oldest Belmont Mansion resident, but she is in need of some tender care. This campaign will provide for necessary conservation work by a professional art conservationist. Once the funds necessary for Ruth are acquired, any additional funds will go towards the care of two other favorite Acklen family statues, Sans Souci and Atalanta.
Join Tamera to Help Ruth
One of Adelicia's finest purchases was Ruth Gleaning by Randolph Rogers (1825-1892) a New York born sculptor. Rogers first modeled Ruth in 1853 but two years past before a marble copy was produced. It then became one of his most popular works with many editions. He sculpted one version at 45 3/4 inches and another reduced version at 10 1/4 inches. Adelicia chose the larger of the two versions.
The statue represents the biblical figure of Ruth, dignified as she pauses from gathering the grain to gaze at Boaz, and is neoclassical in form but incorporates naturalistic features as seen in the hair, garments, feet and in the leaves and sheaves of grain at the base.
Adelicia chose to place Ruth in the middle of the front entry hall. Because of the statue's partial nudity this was a bold move for Victorian American society. Upon Adelicia's death Ruth passed to son William, who chose to include the statue in the Belmont sale of 1888. When it did not receive a respectable bid, William left the sculpture in the house. Consequently Ruth is the one statue which has always remained at Belmont.
Adelicia Acklen purchased this statue from Chauncey B. Ives’s studio in 1866 while in Rome on her Grand Tour. Ives originally went to Florence for study in 1844 but moved to Rome by 1851 along with his friend Randolph Rogers.
Ives’s sculpture depicts a young girl blithely reclining. Her head is thrown back in a daydream, the strap of her dress has fallen off her left shoulder, and a forgotten book lays in her lap. “The many images of children found in the Belmont Mansion were part of a rich, mid-nineteenth-century visual culture that constructed childhood as an untroubled period of angelic innocence …”
Sans Souci (meaning “carefree” in French) was placed in the Central Parlor where it remains today. This location insured that the statue would be viewed by visitors to the Belmont Mansion and by the Acklen family often.
Atalanta Adjusting Her Robes
Atalanta is more commonly known as Diana Robing or Diane de Gabies. The original, in the Louvre, is part of the collection purchased by Napoleon Bonaparte from the Borghese family in 1807. The Greek myth puts forth that Atalanta’s father discourages suitors by challenging them to outrace her in a footrace. No one could beat her. If the suitors lost the race they were beheaded. Young Hippomones fell in love with Atalanta and asked Aphrodite, the goddess of love, for help. The goddess was willing to help because she took offense at Atalanta denying Hippomones the power of love. So, Aphrodite gave Hippomones three Golden Apples. As they were running the race Hippomones threw one of the apples in front of Atalanta when she got ahead. When she stopped to pick the apple up he passed her. He threw apples three times and won the race.
The Louisville Courier Journal article in 1881 stated that the statue stood in the Front Hall of Belmont Mansion. It was sold in the 1888 estate sale to Louis Valentino. In 1912 his wife sold it to Mr. Thomas Wrenne whose daughter sold it to Belmont Mansion in December, 2000.
Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books. Her richly drawn characters and thought provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards. Mrs. Alexander’s Belmont Mansion novels are "standalone novels" meaning that each book is a complete story and can be read independent of the other. But if you're going to read them all, you're encouraged to read them in order.