In response to Kai Stürmann’s question the other day, if someone had any information about a bronze sculling statue, which Kai owns, rowing historian Peter Mallory remembers another rowing statue. Peter writes:
For years this quite large bronze sculpture of John Biglow (see on top) rowed across the grand piano in his parents’ home on a bluff overlooking Lake Washington near Seattle. It appeared to be based upon the famous AP wire photo of John straining at his sculls on Lake Casitas during the 1984 Olympics. It always appeared to me to be quite good but very sad, a lonely figure caught in amber, crying in grief.
Lucius Biglow, John’s dad, now deceased, told me its story years ago, but I have forgotten the details. Something about an artist creating it, nobody wanting it and the Biglows giving it a home as a last resort. I guess nobody wanted a sculpture of a guy who came in fourth, the loneliest spot in the Olympics…
Sorry, Peter. Fake news. This is another of several terrific rowing sculptures by the very talented Ellen Kennelly, Radcliffe rower and dominant master sculler at the Head of the Charles for many years, sister of Harvard and Olympian standout Richard Kennelly, and wife of Harvard and Olympian standout, Yale-Harvard race co-announcer and National Rowing Foundation Executive Director Charlie Hamlin. Ellen also created an extraordinary bronze of Ted Anderson’s sculling hands, the masterful glass overhead puddles sculpture in Weld Boathouse, and a spirited design for a statue of a coxswain being tossed.
In the John Biglow case, Ellen made two sculptures, one of him at the catch, and another of him at the finish. I purchased one of each, and they are now at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley (my copy of the Ted Anderson hands sculpture was on display in the Rowing Hall of Fame at Mystic). The notion of “nobody wanting it” could not be farther from the truth.
That said, there is an underlying problem, with which you are well aware, with the almost complete neglect by the rowing world of the literary and artistic legacy of the sport. That this piece, which equals or rivals in merit the Kelly statue on the Schuylkill, is not better known and prized is just another proof in the damning case that, with few exceptions, the rowing community is pitifully lacking in any cultural taste or appreciation regarding rowing history and art that doesn’t fit on a T-shirt or mug.