Provenance: Hillary Nolan
The reverse-painting panel features the figure of the Liberty
Goddess with a Liberty Cap on pole. The following information about the Liberty
Cap as a symbolic figure was collected from the internet:
The Liberty Cap
The Liberty Cap is a shallow, limp cap, somewhat
resembling a woolen ski cap. Its origin is in ancient times, when freed slaves
would be given this sort of cap to wear as a sign of their freedom. Hence the
symbolism is that the wearer is freed from some sort of slavery. Slavery to
In the eighteenth century the cap was worn by radicals who were bent upon the
destruction of the monarchies in favor of republican or democratic regimes, in
accordance with the dictates of free-thinking and atheistic "philosophers" of
the same century. It was a symbol of revolt against the existing order, and a
call for a new, radical order in which power was perceived to come from the
people, and not from God. A modern equivalent would be the hammer and sickle or
the peace symbol of the 1960's.
It is seen either worn on the head, usually by the
Liberty Goddess [although absent from the head of the one standing in New York],
or more often, it is seen sitting on the top of a pole.
In its second appearance, this symbol of eighteenth century radicalism forms
part of a number of seals of the United States: the seal of the States of New
York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Idaho, Hawaii, Iowa, Colorado, West Virginia,
Arkansas, and Virginia as well as that of the United States Senate and the
United States Army. It is also found on the Liberty Goddess on the Morgan Dollar
[the silver dollar in circulation in the latter part of the nineteenth century]
as well as on the "walking" Liberty Goddess of the mid-twentieth century
half-dollar, and on the Mercury dime of the same period. [Mercury, by the way,
is a favorite god in the masonic menagerie of deities].
The Liberty Cap was confirmed as the symbol of radicalism in the French
Revolution, when it became the fashionable attire of anyone who was in favor of
the Revolution, and finally of the bloodthirsty and cruel Jacobins, the leaders
of the Reign of Terror.