Carl Schurz Sculpture, Morningside ParkCarl Schurz Sculpture, Morningside Park
The NYC Parks Department website explains: “This impressive monument to soldier, statesman and journalist Carl Schurz is the result of a collaboration between the distinguished sculptor Karl Bitter (1867–1915) and renowned architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924). Built in 1913, the monument consists of a full standing bronze portrait of Schurz in the center of a granite exedra (curved bench) with carved reliefs framed by two ornamental bronze luminaries. The entire monument is located within a large brick-paved plaza projecting from the promontory at Morningside Drive and West 116th Street.
Other studio assistants and associates of Bitter may have worked on the side and central stone relief carvings which relate to Schurz’s social concerns about African-American slaves and Native Americans. The low relief carvings in granite were made by the Bronx-based Piccirilli studios after clay and plaster models by Bitter, and the figures display a blend of the stylized features of ancient Archaic Greek and Vienna Seccessionist art. Set at the center, silhouetted against the sky, is the imposing figure of Schurz.
The monument underwent extensive conservation in the late 1930s, at which time incised inscriptions replaced bronze lettering and less distinctive light poles were substituted for the originals.”
The conservation referred to is most likely the federally funded work of Karl Gruppe, “chief sculptor of the Monument Restoration Project of the New York City Parks Department, from 1934 to 1937.” The program was initially supported by federal funding from the Public Works of Art Project (Lowrey, 2008), and later by the WPA.
NYC Parks - Carl Schurz Memorial
Parks Monuments Conservation Crew Vintage Film, NYC Parks Site
Lowrey, Carol. 2008. A Legacy of Art: Paintings and Sculptures by Artist Life Members of the National Arts Club.
NYC Parks - Cooper Triangle
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on March 13, 2016.
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