Willington sculptor called upon to re-cast statue

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Willington - posted Fri., Feb. 17, 2012
Willington sculptor Randall Nelson is in the process of finishing a re-cast statue of Jonathan Trumbull. The original was cast more than 10 years ago and adorned a flagpole at the Old State House in Hartford before it was recently irreparably damaged. Like the original, the replacement statue will be gold-leafed before it is reset atop the flag pole at the Old State House. Photos by Lauri Voter.
Willington sculptor Randall Nelson is in the process of finishing a re-cast statue of Jonathan Trumbull. The original was cast more than 10 years ago and adorned a flagpole at the Old State House in Hartford before it was recently irreparably damaged. Like the original, the replacement statue will be gold-leafed before it is reset atop the flag pole at the Old State House. Photos by Lauri Voter.

It has been more than 10 years since Willington resident and sculptor Randall Nelson was commissioned to design and cast the eight, gold-leafed statues that were installed on the grounds of Connecticut's Old State House in Hartford. Recently, Nelson was called upon to recreate one of those figures.

Nelson's statue of Governor Jonathan Trumbull was irreparably damaged when a vehicle accidentally struck the flagpole to which it was attached. Nelson, who still has the original mold, has completed the first stage – casting (or re-casting), the figure. He said it could take weeks for him to process the next stage, which is to remove all of the tiny air bubbles created during the mold's hardening process, then fill them, and then sand and finish the entire figurine to a smooth finish, so that it will accept the golf leafing.

When complete and re-installed, the duplicate statue will again depict Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., a Colonial statesman who supported the Patriot cause while serving as governor of Connecticut before, during and after the American Revolution. Trumbull, waving from atop his flagpole, keeps good company at the Old State House.

He is joined by seven other historically-significant figures. They are: Dutch navigator Captain Adrian Block, an explorer who established some of Connecticut's colonies, including Windsor, and for whom Block Island is named; Joseph Cinqué, the West African man of Amistad fame who launched an on-board revolt against his captors, only to end up on trial in Connecticut; Prudence Crandall, a teacher whose girls' school was boycotted when Crandall admitted an African-American student in 1833; Marquis de Lafayette, the French Revolutionary War general who allied with the American Patriots to help lead Colonial troops in their fight for independence; Captain Joseph Wadsworth, alleged “hider” of the Connecticut Charter in the legendary “charter oak;” Gen. George Washington, also our first U.S. President and Roger Wolcott, governor of the Connecticut Colony from 1750-1754.

When he was initially commissioned, Nelson carved, developed the molds for, cast and finished each of the statues. Before creating the prototypes, he researched the appropriate attire for each figure. For instance, he referenced a book of Dutch classical art while developing the statue of Captain Block.

Nelson is a Mississippi native who relocated to New England as a young boy with his mother after his father died. He attended Pratt Institute School of Art and Design in Brooklyn and eventually obtained a Master of Fine Arts Degree. In addition to being a sculptor, he teaches art at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Willimantic. 

Nelson specializes in restoration of historic sculpture. His credentials include projects at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, R.I., the arch at Arlington National Cemetery, the Harvard University Gordan McKay Mausoleum in Pittsfield, Mass. and the Pulaski Monument in Savannah, Ga.

For more information, contact Nelson Architectural Restoration at 860-429-3830.


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