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Thomas Ridgeway Gould
American, 1818 - 1881

The West Wind, 1876
American Sculpture
70 1/2 x 23 x 33 1/4 in. (179.1 x 58.4 x 84.5 cm)

Gift of the Isaac Gordon Estate through the Lincoln Rochester Trust Company,  66.18

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About the Object

Who was the West Wind?  In Greek mythology, the West Wind was Zephyrus, one of the four wind gods.  Perhaps the maker of this work, who was influenced by the mythological subjects that he saw in Italy, was describing the West Wind by showing its effect on the figure's hair and skirt.  Another interpretation suggests that the sculpture is an idealized expression of the United States's westward expansion. It was exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia on the occasion of the nation's hundredth birthday in 1876. The starred belt on the waistband of the figure's clothing could refer to the stars on the American flag.

When English poet Percy Shelley wrote his Ode to the West Wind in 1820, he closed it with these immortal words:  

O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

[Gallery label text, 2004]