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The Hahnemann Monument: Architecture

The Hahnemann Monument, depicting the founder of homeopathy, Samuel C. F. Hahnemann, was erected in Washington, DC by the American Institute of Homeopathy and was dedicated and presented on June 21, 1900.

  • Greek exedra form: large niche or recess, usually with a bench or seat, semicircular or rectangular, roofed or unroofed.
  • Elliptical shape, approached by four steps at the minor axis to the platform at the rear of which rises a superstructure. (donor list secreted somewhere in monument)
  • Central portion composed of four columns, Hahnemann seated in front, above whom arises an attica bearing his name. (Sculptor’s signature at base of statue.)
  • Behind the bronze statue of Hahnemann, between the two front columns is an elliptical niche in the vertical axis, terminating in a semicircular arch above the impost. The impost line stretches out to the right and the left, forming the vertical termination of the flanking walls, which end at the extremities of the major axis of the ellipse. The base courses of these curving granite walls form seats occupying the space between the central portion and the end terminations.
  • Because the monument was erected in an open space, it was determined to make it attractive from all aspects. The main lines of the central portion repeat on the back, the niche being replaced with a flat curtain wall with decorated tympanum above the impost. Above that: MCM: 1900.
  • The two figures represent the art and science of medicine.
  • The Tablet reads, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, Doctor of Medicine, Hofrath, Leader of the Great Medical Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, Founder of the Homœopathic School. (Hofrath: Counselor to the Court, honorary title.)
  • Inscription of birth date and place on the rear of the right wall, encircled with laurel leaves.
  • Inscription of death date and place on the rear of the left wall, encircled with laurel leaves.
  • Erlangen: obtained his medical degree
    • Dessau: began his chemistry studies
    • Note lion heads: symbol of strength
  • Leipzig: treated typhus patients successfully
  • Coethen: home, 14 years; wrote Chronic Disease (house restored by German Homoeopathic MD Association with worldwide fundraising)
  • Latin phrases associated with Hahnemann, most characteristically, SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURENTUR (Let likes cure likes) on the pedestal under his statue, but also, AUDE SAPERE (Dare to discern) and IN OMNIBUS CARITAS (In all things charity). DIE MILDE MACHT IST GROSS (The gentle action is the powerful) according to historian, Julian Winston, is attributed to Hering, circa 1845.  
  • Note, again, the Lion head in three places...
  • ...including above the head of Hahnemann. (head modeled from a bust in life given by widow Melanie to one of the American homeopathic colleges)
  • Upper right portion of niche: lamp and book, typifying knowledge and instruction (with laurel).
  • Upper left portion of niche: bowl and serpent, symbolizing wisdom (with palm branch).
  • Mosaic depicting stylistically the foliage and flower of Cinchona.
  • Right bronze entablature: nightly vigils of the student (1775-1777) and the investigations of the chemist (1779-1789).
  • Left bronze entablature: Self-experimentation and teaching (1790:Cinchona) and Successful treatment of the typhus patients at Leipzig (1813).
  • (figures in entablatures depict disciples of Hahnemann: Dunham, Gross, Hartman, Hering, Stapf)
  • Note that Hahnemann is dressed on the robe of the scholar, a brilliant device on the part of Niehaus, as it makes his statue timeless.
  • The model of this monument won the Gold Medal at the Pan American Exposition and was shown at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1903).
  • 1913: Art critic, Charles Coffin: “...finest work...equaled by few others in the country.”
  • The National Cyclopedia of American Biography:
    • “A similar strength and adequacy of conception characterizes the statue of Hahnemann, discoverer of homeopathy, for the memorial in Washington, considered the most effective seated statue ever produced.”
       

by Sandra M Chase, MD, DHt,

  • President, American Board of Homeotherapeutics (ABHt)
  • Past President, National Center for Homeopathy (NCH)
  • Past President, Liga Medicorum Homeopathica Internationalis (LIGA)
  • Trustee, American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH)
  • Chairman, AIH Hahnemann Monument Preservation Committee
  • Facilitator, Hahnemann Monument Restoration Project

These remarks were presented on April 10, 2010 at the Hahnemann Monument in Washington D.C. Please cite Dr. Chase’s work when using any part or all of this information.