Gardens have been adorned with sculptures since at least Roman times. As ornamentation and expressions of personal taste, garden sculptures are equally as popular today. Home Depot provides a wide range of ornaments, from frogs to turtles and beyond! On a grander scale, there is Juno, a magnificent local garden sculpture with provenance, size and a great story dating back to the Romans.
Sister and wife of Jupiter, Juno probably started her life’s work in a Roman temple around 200 A.D. A real marble giant, she stands 13 feet tall and weighs 13,000 pounds! By 1633 she moved to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi’s Roman garden. Her head, which suggests that she represents Juno, was added several hundred years after her body was carved.
Boston Brahmins Charles and Mary Sprague purchased Juno in 1897. Roman art consultant, Richard Norton, hoped the Spragues would purchase the “big statute” and observed “…how lucky is America to have people like the Spragues who know enough to get really fine things.”
Twelve oxen helped install Juno at the Sprague’s private Faulkner Farm in Brookline, Massachusetts. Unlike Isabella Stewart Gardner’s acquisitions, Juno disappeared from public sight for the next 107 years. At Faulkner Farm, Juno lived in Brookline’s finest Italian garden, which was initially designed by John Olmsted (son of the famous landscape architect, Frederic Law Olmsted) and then finished by Charles Adams Platt. All of this incredibly beautiful and ornate garden design was closely supervised by owner Charles Franklin Sprague.
Juno has now come in from the cold New England winters and resides at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is receiving visitors, even as conservationists work to restore her. Juno is a massive, powerful sculpture, well worth a visit to the MFA or a visit to www.mfa.org And it is fun to think how she would look in your own garden!