M980.194.2 | Sculpture - griffin
1888, 19th century
Gift of Mrs. Arthur T. Henderson
© McCord Museum
Keywords: sculpture (112) , Sculpture (113)
Keys to History
These two sandstone sculptures (M980.194.1 et .2) were carved in 1888 by Montreal carver Henry Beaumont to be placed on the gables of the home of Sir George Drummond (1829-1910). They represent a dragon and griffin, the mythological beings that incorporate the body of a lion, the head of a bird (usually an eagle) and might or might not have wings. Use of architectural embellishments of this type was common on the homes of wealthy Montrealers.
These red sandstone sculptures with dark eyes have travelled an interesting route. They soared from the rooftop at Sir George Drummond's home until 1930, when the luxurious Sherbrooke Street residence was demolished. The Drummond family held on to them, however, incorporating them in a stone fence. Then, during the 1960s, they were moved to a garden site, where they became decorative elements. They were offered to the McCord Museum in 1980 by Helen Henderson, a descendant of the Drummond family.
The sculptures are carved from red sandstone that may have been quarried in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The house, which was designed by the architect Sir Andrew Taylor, was situated at the corner of Sherbrooke and Metcalfe Streets, facing the campus of McGill University.
By 1980, when they were offered to the McCord Museum, the statues needed to be restored. Frequent moves, long exposure to the elements and time itself had resulted in significant damage to them.
George Drummond (1829-1910) was educated as a chemical engineer in Edinburgh and came to Montreal to assume the technical management of the Redpath Sugar refinery. His subsequent political career and appointment as president of the Bank of Montreal made him one of Canada's most influential men.