Washington Irving Bust Being Restored by New Deal WorkersWith support from the Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) this film was taken in the 1930s by Karl Gruppe (1893-1982), chief sculptor of the Monument Restoration Project of the New York City Parks Department, from 1934 to 1937. Credit: Karl Gruppe/Elizabeth Stover Gruppe
This bust of Washington Irving has an interesting history: “In the late 1800s to early 1900s, a large bronze bust of Washington Irving, mounted on a granite pedestal, stood in the south side of Bryant Park. The author of “Sleepy Hollow” and many other works, Irving was one of the first American writers to gain international acclaim.
The statue was donated to the City of New York in 1885 by Joseph Weiner, a German physician and admirer of Irving’s. Sculpted by artist Friedrich Beers, the bust was originally intended for placement in Central Park. Upon completion some members of the NYC Art Committee declared it a success, while others insisted that it wasn’t flattering enough to Irving. The Commission decided to put the bust in Bryant Park, because Irving had served on the park’s advisory council at one point.
It remained in the park for many years, and possibly up until the 1934 renovation. Some say that the statue was moved before that, lost, and then later recovered in a storage shed under the Williamsburg Bridge.
In 1935, the Irving bust was moved to Washington Irving High School (go bulldogs!), where it remains today.” (blog.bryantpark.org)
In the 1930s, the memorial was restored with federal funding under 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.
Bryant Park Blog 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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