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The Whistler’s Mother Statue – Coal mining town honours their mothers

January 2020

In 1937, the Ashland Boys’ Association in the anthracite coal mining town of Ashland, Pennsylvania, came up with a unique way of honouring their mothers and mothers across America: an eight-foot bronze statue sitting on a hill overlooking the downtown area of Ashland.

The statue is based on an oil painting by James McNeil Whistler, done in 1871, officially titled “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1,” but colloquially known as “Whistler’s Mother,” given that the subject of the painting is Whistler’s mother, Anna McNeill Whistler.

Some accounts of the tell that Anna Whistler wasn’t originally intended to be the subject of the painting, but was simply a stand-in for the original model. Further to this account, the subject in the painting was supposed to be standing, but that Anna refused to stand for the time it would take to paint the portrait.

The Whistler’s Mother Statue was designed by sculptor Emil Siebern, known for the polished steel nymph with beach ball at New York’s Astoria Park swimming pool and statues of King William III and Queen Mary II in Williamsburg, Virginia, and was built using funds from the Work Projects Administration, a Depression-era work project agency.

It was officially dedicated on 4 September 1938 and is the only statue in the world honouring mothers.

Visitors to Ashland will find the Whistler’s Mother’s Statue on a hill at the end of North 3rd St, between Chestnut and Market Streets.

While in Ashland, visitors can also tour a former coal mine, now known as the Pioneer Tunnel, at nearby Higher Ups Park.

Sources: https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2195, http://outtaway.blogspot.com/2011/05/whistlers-mother-monument.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistler%27s_Mother, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Siebern,

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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