Holloway was the artist commissioned to paint three murals in the
completed Capitol building. Not much is written of the man before
his days spent in South Dakota painting the three murals he had been
commissioned for; The Mercy of the Law, The Louisiana Purchase, and the
Peace that Passes Understanding.
South Dakota Mural days, Holloway was
active in San Francisco during 1914-15 as a muralist for the Panama -
Pacific International Exposition. By 1920 he was working in Los Angeles.
Holloway was mainly active in Illinois and California. If you
review some of his works, he was a very prolific muralist, whose work
can be viewed in Capitols and courthouses nationwide.
known as Mercy of the Law (as pictured in Black and White) resides in
the Supreme Court chambers.
enough, during a period of time as documented in the 1970's and 1980's,
this painting was also referred to as "the Gate of Justice."
However, in earlier Capitol Guides, and as revised after the Capitol
Renovations, it has been properly known as "The Mercy of the Law."
Flanked by the
lion, symbols of courage, stern guardians armed with swords guard the
gates of Justice. On the walls by the gates are the sculpted figures of
"Law" and "Justice."
On each side
of the lower part of the painting is shown the despairing and remorseful
guilty. In the center is the spirit of Mercy showing compassion and pity
for the guilty, but as the guardian of nature's law, the strong arm of
God, she demands their penalty.
One thing that
should not escape the visitor's attention is that the Holloway paintings
are of a more classical nature, as was the style with other popular
artists of the day such as Maxfield Parish. These are the only murals
with that type of artistry (which will include semi-nude depictions)
that you'll find in the Capitol. Over the building's nearly hundred
years, that fact has not gone unnoticed.
At one time in
the 1980's, a resolution had been introduced in the Legislature to cover
the Holloway mural in the State Senate chamber, known as "the Louisiana
Purchase" as pictured below:
did not pass the Senate, and the mural has remained on display to this
Before it was
hung in the Capitol, the Louisiana Purchase Mural was originally painted
to enter into the competition at the St. Louis Fair for the best design
illustrating the Louisiana Purchase. According to file information, this
painting won the first award and a prize of $3,000 - a princely sum for
the day. In 2006 dollars, it would have been a roughly $50,000 prize.
the 1920 brochure Guide to South Dakota Capitol "This painting
was purchased by the Capitol Commission as exceedingly appropriate for
Holloway mural, The Peace That Passes Understanding, looks down upon the
South Dakota House of Representatives, and represents the first recorded
act of Christian worship in South Dakota, the celebrated Jedediah Smith
incident of 1823.
(The Peace That Passes Understanding as it
appeared during the Capitol Restoration)
source material used in Capitol Tours and guides of the past:
largest mural in the Capitol notes the time in South Dakota's
history when 23 men under the command of General Ashley had been
ambushed by the Ree at the towns near the present city of Mobridge,
their dead and dying bodies were brought on to the little trading
boat. The moorings were cut, and they drifted downstream. The men
were so overcome by the loss that they would not attempt to fight
their way past the hostile Indian town.
feeling it was imperative to communicate with his partner, Major
Andrew Henry on the Yellowstone, called for volunteers to make the
perilous trip of 400 miles through the wilderness. Jedediah Smith
volunteered and before starting knelt among them and "made a
powerful prayer, which moved us all greatly." In the painting,
Holloway combines historical fact with symbolism.
center, Smith is shown praying to God for the dead and dying. Native
Americans are shown among the willows on the shore, among them a
chief demanding peace. In the foreground, and Indian maiden looking
to the sky feels the wonder of life, and sees it, as do the others
of her tribe.
Jedidiah Smith calls down the blessing of heaven upon the dying, his
spiritual force produces a power over the Indians. They see the
spirit of the heavens above as they saw the spirits of their dead.
The fight is over and to all comes the unifying "peace that passes
to South Dakota Capitol, 1920's, and State Capitol of South
Dakota, Dayton Canaday).
This brings us
to the most celebrated mural in the South Dakota State Capitol, as well
as the most controversial. It's a painting that - until conservation
methods are available to move it from the Capitol - remains hidden from
the public's view.
of the West