The boy is finally taking his frog elsewhere


Prepare to be stunned. The big news in today’s Gazzettino  comes as a thunderstrike from the blue, at least to me who doubted that I or my non-existent great-grandchildren would ever see the departure of the “Boy with a Frog” from the Punta della Dogana. 

He’s leaving.

The “Boy with a Frog” photographed by Pierre (www.venicedailyphoto.com) on August 21, 2009. At the time, he was still the new kid in town and hadn’t yet begun to wear out his welcome.

One might recall that we signed a petition on November 21, 2011 to remove the statue and replace it with the long-beloved and historically valid lamppost.  There was also a Facebook group organized with the same purpose, and while the time has been long and toilsome, perhaps they both had some effect on this happy outcome.

Tourists flocked to take photos of his appendages, but many Venetians looked at him and saw only what wasn’t there anymore, and what they wanted to have back.  Including Lino, and also me.

There were so many protests of various sorts, including occasional calls to arms to destroy it, that the museum owner, Francois Pinault, paid for a transparent protective box to cover it every night, and an armed guard around the clock.  A guard who, a recent article recounted, was required to work a 12-hour shift without anywhere to sit, keep warm, eat, or go to the bathroom.  You don’t get to be a billionaire by feeling sorry for people.

But perhaps the “vehement letter” from Franco Miracco, ex-councilor of the Ministry for Cultural Treasures (“beni“) was what was finally needed.  He wrote, the story reports, asking the city and the local Superintendency for Artistic and Architectural Treasures “whatever happened to the authorization to leave (the statue) there.” As in: The jig is up.

So the news is that on March 18 the work will begin to remove the lad and replace the lamp.

The city is congratulating itself publicly for its concern to replace the old lamp with a perfect replica, made from the mold (1860’s vintage) at the foundry in Mantova which had made the original lamp.  I too congratulate them.  I also wonder whatever happened to the lamp that was there until 2009, but there must be a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” injunction on that question.  Works of art and history get lost in warehouses all the time.  Cut up, sold, melted down, and so on.

In case you might wonder how this feat is being accomplished by a municipality which has made a cult of having no money, it’s being paid for by a group of companies which supply public lighting.

So is this the last we’ll ever see of the eight-foot stripling?  Maybe not.  The city has only said that “Its future at the moment is uncertain.  The sculpture could find a new space in Venice, but might also leave the city.”

I’m seriously considering planning a going-away party for the little guy.  It would be like a baby shower — we could all give him clothes.  Underpants.  Shearling coats.  Collegiate hoodies.  Compression running tights.  Mukluks.

If I ever hear of a reason why this decision was made, I’ll pass it along.  Of course, you don’t get to be a billionaire by explaining why you do things.

For now, I’m filing it under “The Fullness of Time.”

I wish someone would explain the fatal attraction of pre-pubescent boys and frogs. This “Boy and Frog” won a bronze medal for American sculptor Elsie Ward Hering at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Copies are in Brookgreen Gardens (South Carolina) and the Denver Botanic Gardens.


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  1. Debby Wang
    Twitter: Misswang

    Thank goodness! In the wrong spot for artistic harmony, taints the view across the Grand Canal. Boys and frogs are natural, nubile boys and frogs may not be. “The Boy and Frog” statue looks like a girl, perhaps 1914 desire that girls should be allowed to be fascinated by frogs too?

  2. Antony Gray says:

    Might the lamp-post be a Theodor e Hasselquist? Ifs so Venice and her visitors should be thrilled.

    While aloft, in ranks serene
    Serving the celestial queen,
    Countless constellations bright
    Circumnavigate the night,
    Two earth-bound slaves below, Stationed on the shadowy edge
    Lift their lanterns through the mist
    Theodor and Hasselquist

    When the globe dissolves for me
    And the land is lost in sea
    When I cross the last lagoon
    Starless, and without a moon,
    Faithful still beneath the dome
    Be they there to light me home.
    Shining from the farther shore –
    Hesselquist and Theodor.
    John Sparrow

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      From what I have read in the Gazzettino, the original lamp-post has mysteriously disappeared. What will replace it will be a replica. Presumably of the item immortalized by the poet.

  3. Charlie Pistor says:

    I agree, completely. I would rather see actually an “original” streetlamp, than a copy, and barring that, a good copy, and even less so, a naked kid with a frog. Put it in someones private collection some place. Or even better, send it to Cancun, and sink it next to all the other sculptures that the snorklers can see

  4. […] suddenly realized that when I was proposing the going-away party for the boy — clothes, but possibly also food, because he must be really hungry by now — I […]

  5. […] And the “Boy with the Frog,” claimed to be scheduled for removal on March 18? It’s still standing there. I let […]