Chief Seattle

Photo by Spike Mafford Photography. Posted September 2018.
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Artist
Year
1912
Category
Tags
Description

Cast, gilded bronze, granite.

James Wehn’s near-life-size historic bronze statue of Chief Seattle, the city’s namesake, invites visitors to sit by the fountain pool in downtown Seattle’s Tilikum Place Park and ponder the history of the city and sculpture.

In the early 1900s, during the first stage of the Denny Hill Regrade, the city street improvement budget included funds for the city’s first commission for a statue. In 1907, the committee awarded the commission to Wehn, a local 24-year-old sculptor who proposed a full-length portrait of Chief Seattle. He based his original plaster cast on the only surviving photographic portrait of the chief, taken in 1864.

Wehn became upset and threw his model into Elliott Bay after he discovered that the city planned to hire an inexperienced local firm to cast his statue. He only agreed to create a second model after the city decided to hire a New York firm to cast the bronze sculpture. The artwork was finally unveiled by Chief Seattle’s great-great-granddaughter in an impressive ceremony on Founders’ Day, Nov. 13, 1912.

Location

Tilikum Place Park, 5th Ave & Denny Wy
Seattle

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