University Archives, in the Columbia University Libraries Rare Book and Manuscript Library, recently released this archival photograph of George Grey Barnard's sculpture The Great God Pan (C00.825). As noted in a previous post, Barnard's sculpture is currently located outside Lewisohn Hall, but it was originally installed as a working fountain in a neo-Pompeiian grotto called the Grove, located in the northeast corner of the campus.
In 1916, Ralph Perry, editor of The Columbian, wrote a poem dedicated to the spirit of Pan and this sculpture, and published it in the university publication (p. 353). The title "Pan Gyrics" (instead of "lyrics") suggests the poem relates to the idea of gyration, moving rapidly in a circular pattern. It may have been intended as a team rally song and dance, especially since it appeared in the publication following an essay on football. Considering the association of the god Pan with nature and sexuality, however, the title arguably may also be a double entendre.
To the Great God Pan
We haven't got a bull dog nor an ideal for a totem.
But yet we have a watchword and an emblem of our clan:
We don't say much about it, for it passes our expression
For the symbol of our spirit is the Great God Pan.
Yes, the big and mystic statue that has crept into our blood
With the love we bear our college–and who knows when that began?
But we feel it, and sense it with a fervor more than knowledge
When we swear, so very softly, "By the Great God Pan!"
All the bigness that is in us, all the glory that runs through us.
That is called out by "Columbia!" as we travel in her van–
And the spirit which it voices is of youth and aspiration:
Aye, may we live forever by the Great God Pan!
If you think you've seen this sculpture before but you're not sure where, then you've walked the grounds of Columbia's Morningside Heights campus.
This public outdoor sculpture is The Great God Pan (C00.825) by the American artist George Grey Barnard (1863-1938). The work shows the Greek god Pan in his usual form as half-man, half-goat, playing the pan pipes associated with him. As a fertility deity, he is often accompanied by fauns and nymphs, but here he is seen in solitude enjoying the music he plays. This sculpture was one of Barnard's first commissions upon returning from his artistic training in Paris. The Clark family commissioned the work from him in the mid-1890s for the Dakota apartment building on 72nd St. and Central Park West. The sculpture was cast in bronze by Henry-Bonnard Bronze Co., an important foundry located in New York. However, when completed, the sculpture was considered inappropriate for the Dakota, possibly because of the figure's uninhibited nudity. The sculpture was offered to the City of New York and briefly destined for Central Park, but eventually Edward Severin Clark donated it to Columbia for its newly developed Morningside campus.
In 1907 the architect Charles Follen McKim installed the sculpture as a working fountain in a neo-Pompeiian grotto in the northeast corner of campus. Over time it was moved as new construction took place on campus, and currently it is located on the lawn facing Lewisohn Hall.
Barnard's career as a sculptor continued, but he became more famous for his collection of medieval architectural fragments and sculptures, which eventually became the foundation for The Cloisters Museum & Gardens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Image Credit: George Grey Barnard, The Great God Pan, installed 1907, bronze, Gift of Edward Severin Clark (C00.825). Photograph by Roberto C. Ferrari, Art Properties, Avery Library, Columbia University.