Bannister Statue Proposed For Market Square

The Providence Art Club has launched a campaign to create a statue of the noted 19th-century landscape painter, and one of the Art Club’s original founders, Edward M. Bannister. Seen here is a mock-up, with a wax maquette, of a full-size sculpture by artist, Gage Prentiss in its anticipated location in Market Square. Prentiss speaks of his hopes for the work:

Sitting on a bench at Market Square, looking out at the Providence River, sketching in his sketchbook, I will capture a moment Edward Bannister repeated countless times in his life. The sculpture and plaque will create an encounter with him where people can sit and pose for pictures, whet their curiosity about his art, and enjoy the wonder and whimsy of imagining who this person was from the past. I want to help elevate him in Providence and beyond.

It was just a year ago that we featured Prentiss’s inspired bust of Bannister, commissioned by the Art Club and on display there.

Market Square is an excellent location. This is a very busy spot on any day, with lots of foot traffic, but just think of the exposure this pivotal Rhode Island figure will get on a WaterFire night.

From the self-guided, early Black history walking tour generated by GoProvidence:

Market House was built by many hands beginning in 1775. Black laborers were essential in this work, beginning with site preparation, masonry, material-gathering and more throughout the whole process. Pero Paget, Thomas Shoemaker and Pomp Smith all made significant contributions of labor. Once it opened, Black entrepreneurs worked the market stalls inside and out, including free Black butcher George Thomas and George McCarty, a native of Montserrat who ran a refreshment stand.

Proof that Market Square had ever been the location of a slave market is harder to come by. From Wiki:

The identification of the site as a slave market, however, has not been confirmed by primary sources. Historical references to slave sales in Providence suggest that these transactions traditionally occurred in private, commercial establishments rather than in a central, public space.

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