Picture: Blériot Model XI monoplane weathervane, ca. 1909-13, copper with remnants of the original gilding; Airplane: 57 ¼ x 55 x 10 in (145.4 x 139.7 x 25.4 cm), Directions: 38 5/8 x 38 ½ x 15 ¾ in (98.1 x 97.8 x 40 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Michael and Patricia Del Castello. Copyright: Michael Kent Lynberg.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that it has received a gift from Michael and Patricia Del Castello of a rare American weathervane. Made between 1909 and 1913 by an unknown maker, it was probably commissioned for the Poland Spring House in Poland Spring, Maine, where it was installed on the roof in 1914 and was on display until 1973 September 2022 at Gallery 732 in the American wing.
“This weather vane is an exceptional example of American sculpture,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellens French director of The Met centenary approaching. We are deeply grateful to Michael and Patricia Del Castello for their generous gift of this unique work of art.”
Primarily used to indicate and measure wind direction, weather vanes represent an American sculpting tradition that dates back to the early 18th century. This weathervane was modeled after the Blériot Model XI Monoplane, a small aircraft that French aviator and engineer Louis Blériot (1872-1936) flew across the English Channel on July 25, 1909, marking the first flight across the Channel, 25 miles from Calais to Dover. Blériot helped design the aircraft and put it into production, setting records for airspeed, altitude and distance. The aircraft was popular at races in both Europe and the United States. The weathervane depicting the monoplane was thought to have been made in response to races held between French and American aviators at Poland Spring and Portland, Maine shortly after Blériot’s historic 1909 flight across the English Channel.
“The gift of the Blériot Model XI monoplane weathervane is transformative as it adds to the collection one of the finest examples of American weathervanes ever produced,” said Thayer Tolles, Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Painting and Sculpture. “The weathervane is not only distinguished by its impressive size and complexity of assembly, but also by its reference to a historical event.”
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