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silliman.jpg

Benjamin Silliman, Sr., 1881-84
John Ferguson Weir (1841-1926; M.A.H. 1871)
Location: Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, facing Prospect Street

Although this statue’s plaque and current location on Science Hill honor Benjamin Silliman, Sr. (1779-1864; B.A. 1796, M.A. 1799) as a pioneering professor of chemistry and natural history, its original viewers would have equally remembered Silliman for his passion for the visual arts. In addition to helping found the School of Medicine and the Sheffield Scientific School, Silliman brokered Yale’s acquisition of John Trumbull’s collection of paintings in 1832, thereby creating America’s first university art gallery, which he curated until his death in 1864. The portly eight-foot bronze figure of Silliman, shown lecturing on a crystal held in his right hand, is the first sculptural work by Yale School of the Fine Arts director John Ferguson Weir, a well-known painter of industrial scenes who learned to work in three dimensions specifically for this project. Gift of the friends and students of the sitter, 1884