Monuments, Medals, and Metropolis, part II

by Peter van Alfen; photography by Alan Roche

This is the second article of a three-part series examining the relationship between numismatics and other artistic media—primarily public sculpture and architecture—in Manhattan. In the first installment (ANS Magazine, vol. 2.2, Summer 2003, pp. 17-23?) we considered the sculptural adornment of Beaux Arts-period buildings created by noted numismatic artists. In this installment, we turn to Beaux Arts free-standing sculpture and monuments.

The Saint-Gaudens Circle

When, at the start of his second term in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt began his campaign to revamp US coinage to make it more aesthetically pleasing (a campaign that had been initiated in part by the ANS), he found in Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) a willing friend and ally. By the turn of the century, Saint-Gaudens had become as powerful within the art world as Roosevelt was within politics. Both men were masters of their respective domains, both had the prestige to accomplish their collaborative program of elevating the country’s perception of beauty. Saint-Gaudens would not live to see his gold $10 Eagle and $20 Double Eagle coins reach circulation in 1907; Roosevelt was more fortunate. Before he died in 1919, the President had witnessed the introduction of Bela Lyon Pratt’s Two-and-a-Half-Dollar and Five-Dollar gold coins in 1908, Victor D. Brenner’s new “Lincoln” cent in 1909, James E. Fraser’s “Buffalo” nickel in 1913, Adolph A. Weinman’s “Mercury head” dime and “Walking Liberty” half dollar in 1916, and Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Standing Liberty” quarter in 1916. Still to come as a coda to the program was Anthony de Francisci’s 1921 “Peace Dollar.” For decades after his death, Saint-Gaudens’ legacy touched nearly every American, or at least those who touched the coins that he and his disciples helped bring to life, as it were. In the country’s greatest metropolis—New York City’s Manhattan—Saint-Gaudens and his disciples also left their mark on numerous street corners, parks, and other public spaces in the form of monuments and memorials, offering passers-by pause for reflection in an otherwise hectic cityscape.

John Flanagan, medal honoring Augustus Saint-Gaudens (ANS 1976.263.13, gift of Adolph A. Weinman), AE, 46 x 63 mm

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Liberty on the obverse of the 1907 High-Relief Double Eagle (ANS 1980.109.2119, bequest of A.J. Fecht)

With the exception of Brenner, who trained in Paris under the eminent French medalist Louis Oscar Roty, almost all the sculptors of the new coins and monuments had either been students of Saint-Gaudens or had assisted in his studio (or both). De Francisci, who was slightly younger than the rest, was not trained by Saint-Gaudens himself but by no less than four of his students; thus de Francisci’s indebtedness to the master was almost as direct and complete as that of the others. Saint-Gaudens’ influence on American sculpture and numismatic art in the early 20th century cannot be overstated; within a relatively brief period in the late 19th century his reputation as one of the country’s premier sculptors had grown exponentially.

Born in Dublin, Saint-Gaudens was raised in the City where he apprenticed as a cameo engraver while taking night classes at Peter Cooper’s recently established (in 1859) tuition-free polytechnical school: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Like many American artists of his generation, Saint-Gaudens soon set off for Paris (in 1867) to study art first at the École Gratuite de Dessin (the Petite École) and later at the more prestigious École des Beaux Arts, an institution whose hold over American art and architecture in the later 19th century was all but complete. Throughout the 1870s Saint-Gaudens was in transit, moving from Paris to Rome to New York and then back to Paris, drumming up commissions for smaller portraits and decorative pieces as went along but always in search of the one large commission that would change his fortunes and fate. While he was still in Europe he befriended the young Stanford White and Charles McKim, future partners of the important New York City architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. The meeting was to prove fruitful; the two architects and the sculptor would share ideas and remain fast friends until their deaths. In fact, Saint-Gaudens collaborated with one or the other on every major sculptural commission he subsequently received. Saint-Gaudens’ first important commission, for the Admiral David Glasgow Farragut monument in Madison Square Park (between 23rd and 26th Streets and Fifth and Madison Avenues) came not long after the three met in 1875.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Memorial

Saint-Gaudens and White traded ideas for the monument of the Civil War hero (famed for his capture of New Orleans) during travels through Italy, finally settling on a naturalistic, wind-swept standing portrait of the Admiral set atop an exedra as integral to the monument as the statue itself. White’s swirling waves carved in bluestone reflect the ocean, while the allegorical figures of Loyalty and Courage are set within. When the monument was unveiled in 1881 it received tremendous applause; Saint-Gaudens had little trouble ever after finding important, lucrative commissions.

With his reputation solidifying, Saint-Gaudens was thrilled to receive the commission to produce a commemorative statue for Peter Cooper, who had died in 1883. Always a grateful alumnus of Cooper Union, Saint-Gaudens sought to produce a fitting tribute to the man who had provided him his first (free) education in the fine arts, and so labored over 27 successive versions of the statue before finding satisfaction. For the pedestal and marble canopy, Saint-Gaudens again sought Stanford White’s expertise, but White, who by this time was quite busy himself with numerous projects in the City and elsewhere, clearly did not push himself as hard as Saint-Gaudens would have liked. Saint-Gaudens, in fact, was quite unhappy with White’s rather pedestrian efforts. Nevertheless, the completed work was unveiled in 1894 in a small park behind the school (where Third Avenue becomes Bowery) that Peter Cooper nearly went bankrupt to establish.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, Peter Cooper Memorial

Saint-Gaudens’ last large-scale project before his demise, this time with Charles McKim as a collaborator, was the glorious, golden equestrian statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman unveiled on the corner of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in May 1903. Nearly ten years in the making, the statue is unusual for heroic equestrian bronzes because of its vigorous sense of forward motion. A winged Victory leads Sherman’s horse at a trot; the General sits at ease in the saddle, a tired look upon his face, his cape blowing in the wind. The monument was well received at its unveiling and rightly so. Always the harshest critic of his own work, Saint-Gaudens was overjoyed with his efforts, particularly with the goddess: “It’s the grandest ‘Victory’ anybody ever made,” he said, “Hooray!” (Greenthal 1985: 158). (Among his other traits, Saint-Gaudens was never especially modest.) The obvious affinity between the Sherman monument’s Victory and the Liberty that appeared on the obverse of the 1907 Double Eagle was intentional; the striding poses are similar, as is the extended arm, billowing drapery, and raised foot. One early model for the Double Eagle’s Liberty also sported wings (see Taxay 1966: 320). Saint-Gaudens’ perfected goddess was to be his swansong.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, General William Tecumseh Sherman Memorial

With the increasing number of commissions he received through the 1880s, Saint-Gaudens soon found there was more work in his studio than he and his brother Louis could handle alone. Philip Martiny and Frederick MacMonnies were hired to assist; thus began Saint-Gaudens’ equally influential career as teacher and mentor to the next generation of aspiring artists. By the time he died, a close-knit circle of students and assistants had formed around him, many of whom, like Adolph A. Weinman and James E. Fraser, would become equally famed for both their numismatic and large-scale sculptural endeavors. Most members of this group collaborated with or assisted each other on various projects in the City or elsewhere, most followed Saint-Gaudens at one point or another to his studios in Paris or in Cornish, New Hampshire; most became teachers or mentors themselves. Like Saint-Gaudens, many had close ties to Cooper Union and the Art Students League, another important art center in turn-of-the-century New York, where they had either studied or taught or both; many also had close ties to the ANS as members, medal designers, or as winners of the newly established (in 1913) J. Sanford Saltus Award for Signal Achievement in the Art of the Medal. Adolph A. Weinman designed the award medal which was given first to James E. Fraser (1919), then to Weinman himself (1920), who was followed by John Flanagan (1921), Victor D. Brenner (1922), Hermon MacNeil (1923), Fraser’s wife Laura Gardin (1926), and Anthony de Francisci (1927).

The close personal and professional ties between these artists and the respect they had for their teacher also found expression in medallic portraits. Fraser and Flanagan, for example, produced portraits of Saint-Gaudens (the ANS example of Flanagan’s medal was owned by Weinman, illustrating again the group’s close bonds). Flanagan also produced a portrait of Daniel Chester French, an equally important peer of Saint Gaudens’ and likewise a teacher of a number of the same pupils (e.g., Weinman). De Francisci, a later-generation member of the group, portrayed his immediate mentor, Weinman.

Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937)

One of Saint-Gaudens first assistants, MacMonnies was also one of his most beloved and respected students. Recognizing MacMonnies’ talents, Saint-Gaudens urged him to leave New York for Paris (in 1884) in order to attend the École des Beaux Arts. Once finished with his studies, MacMonnies established his own studio in Paris where he was based until the beginning of the First World War. It was there that he worked on his first major commission, a statue of Nathan Hale, a martyr-soldier of the American Revolution who at age 21 was hanged by the British for being a spy. MacMonnies’ statue of the young patriot was erected in City Hall Park in 1890 on the spot, presumably, where Hale was executed. (Bela Lyon Pratt also produced a statue of Hale for Yale University, Hale’s alma mater, which was unveiled in 1912. The University had earlier approached Saint-Gaudens for the commission but balked at his $40,000 fee.) MacMonnies contributed a number of other pieces, mostly architectural, to the beautification of Manhattan around the turn of the century, including Truth and Beauty at the Public Library (Fifth Ave. and 42nd Street), and most of the ornamentation on the Washington Square Arch, which we shall return to below.

Frederick MacMonnies, Nathan Hale

MacMonnies produced only a few medals during his career, a fact that many, including the famed French art critic Roger Marx (one of the organizers of the medals exhibition at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris) found disappointing. Marx particularly was taken by MacMonnies’ “originality” and “artistic excellence” in medallic art shown, for example, in his Niagara medal (Baxter 1987: 56); like Fraser and Flanagan, MacMonnies was also drawn to Native American topics.

Frederick MacMonnies, Niagara (ANS 1940.100.2097, gift of R.J. Eidlitz), AE, 58 mm

MacMonnies’ best-known medal is that of Charles Lindbergh, who in 1927 made the first west-east, non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. MacMonnies produced the medal for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 4, 1931), a non-profit art medal organization founded in 1930 in New York City. For over half a century members subscribing to the society received up to two specially produced medals per year designed by leading US artists-including many in the Saint-Gaudens circle-which were struck by the Medallic Art Company, then based on 44th Street. Included with the medals was a small pamphlet often describing in the artist’s own words what the medal presented. MacMonnies, rather dramatically (and ungrammatically), described his medal thus:

Frederick MacMonnies, Charles Lindbergh (ANS 0000.999.44554), AE, 71 mm

In the head of Lindbergh I have tried to catch something of the inner belief and nobility of vision of the boy, together with the experience of the master airman. On the reverse is an allegory of the Lone Eagle battling through the perverse elements of storm, wind, and fog. The figure of Death as King. Life’s ever present tyrant, sure of his final triumph, retreats foiled and defeated. The Wind tries in vain to raise a barrier against the spent and trembling wings, while the insane fury of the Storm hurls lightnings and veils the moons and stars in mist and rain, but the Lone Eagle goes on.

Philip Martiny (1858-1927)

Martiny, MacMonnies and Saint-Gaudens had met while working on the elaborate interior décor of Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s Fifth Avenue mansion. At the same time that he sought out MacMonnies, Saint-Gaudens also hired Martiny. Born in Alsace, Martiny had immigrated to New York at the age of 20 in order to avoid military service. After five years of assisting first Saint-​Gaudens and then MacMonnies, Martiny set up his own studio on MacDougal Street and proceeded to become one of the most prolific sculptors of architectural ornaments in the City, including (with Henry Bush-Brown) all of the sculptures on the Surrogate Court building, a Beaux Arts masterpiece on Chambers Street across from City Hall.

Following the First World War, Martiny received two commissions for over-life sized “Doughboys” commemorating the fallen soldiers of Greenwich Village and Chelsea. Both the Chelsea Park Memorial (at 28th Street and 9th Ave.) and the Abingdon Square Memorial, in Abingdon Square Park (bounded by 8th Ave., Bank and Hudson Streets and West 12th), display a novel use of drapery that offsets otherwise commonplace portrayals of the modern soldier. In the Abingdon memorial particularly the banner enshrouding the soldier disguises the human form imparting a decidedly abstract character to the sculpture even from a few yards away. Martiny’s stylistic adventures on these statues were a departure from the main body of his work which otherwise tended to be confined within the Beaux Arts tradition, as witnessed especially by his only foray into medallic art, an award medal for the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta.

Philip Martiny, Abingdon Square Memorial

Philip Martiny, Chelsea Park Memorial

Philip Martiny, Award Medal, 1895 Atlanta Exposition (ANS 1933.64.17, bequest of Dr. George F. Kunz), AE, 57 mm

James Earle Fraser (1878-1953)

Another of Saint-Gaudens’ star assistants, Fraser had spent the early part of his life on the frontier in South Dakota before following his artistic ambitions first to Chicago and then to the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. It was in Paris that Saint-Gaudens met Fraser and asked the young man to work for him, first in his Paris studio and then, two years later in 1900, in his Cornish, New Hampshire studio. It was during his time in Cornish that Fraser received his first public commission, to produce a medal honoring Saint-Gaudens for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. Saint-Gaudens’ early medals, like that for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, showed heavy borrowings from the 15th-century Italian medalist Pisanello, whose style Saint-Gaudens deeply admired. Fraser created his own Pisanellian medal to honor his mentor, and so launched his career as one of the most artistically successful medalists of his generation. By 1902, Fraser had his own studio in Greenwich Village (with Daniel Chester French as a neighbor) and not long after (in 1906) a job teaching at the Art Students League, where he met his wife, Laura Gardin (another sculpture instructor and later a noted medalist herself), and where he had Anthony de Francisci among his students.

In his work, Fraser attained distinction for his ability to embody the spirit of the rapidly disappearing American West. His statue End of the Trail, for example, depicting a worn-out Native American astride an equally exhausted horse, achieved almost immediate cult status when it was displayed at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. The same spirit too was found in his “Buffalo” nickel of 1913, whose photographic naturalism offered a compelling, if not contrived snapshot of the west, much like that found on the 1936 Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar he composed with his wife, Laura. But it was in Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt that Fraser found a kindred spirit and an appealing subject for a number of busts, statues and a medal. Fraser completed two monumental equestrian statues of Roosevelt, one that was dedicated in Santiago, Cuba, near the site of Roosevelt’s valorous charge up Kettle and San Juan Hills in the summer of 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The other stands in front of the American Natural History Museum (at 81st Street and Central Park West), a museum that Roosevelt helped to establish. Flanked by two grim but subdued Native Americans, the mounted Roosevelt presents an idealized portrait of a young, muscular American hero/warrior, armed with the Wild West’s weapon of choice: the six-gun. A great deal more realism can be found in Fraser’s portrait of an older, squinting former President on the Medal of Honor for the Roosevelt Memorial Association (1920) which, like the medal Fraser made for Saint-Gaudens almost two decades before, openly alludes to the medals of Pisanello.

James E. Fraser, Theodore Roosevelt

James E. Fraser, Roosevelt Memorial Association Medal of Honor (ANS 0000.999.11), AE, 82 mm

James E. Fraser, medal honoring Augustus Saint-Gaudens presented at the 1901 Pan American Exposition (ANS 0000.999.21), AE, 91 mm

John Flanagan (1865-1952)

Flanagan, like many of Saint-Gaudens assistants, attended classes at the Art Students League before leaving for Paris (in 1890) to study at the École des Beaux Arts. At the beginning of his twelve-year stay in the City of Lights, Flanagan assisted in MacMonnies’ studio for a while, working mostly on MacMonnies’ large nautical-themed sculptural group for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Flanagan produced no sculpture for New York City, but is mentioned here because he was perhaps the most accomplished medalist of the Saint-Gaudens circle. MacMonnies remarked about his skill: “I consider him the leading medalist in America, an artist of high rank and a craftsman of infinite sincerity and devotion to his work” (Baxter 1987: 45). Flanagan paid honor to Saint-Gaudens with a medallic portrait (in 1937), and offered Daniel Chester French a portrait on the occasion of his 69th birthday in 1919. His medal for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 6, 1932), while not one of his best, shows on the obverse a whimsical, modern Aphrodite paired with a brace of heroic male nudes on the reverse; the later types were featured on several of his other medals. It was also Flanagan who designed the “Washington” quarter replacing MacNeil’s “Standing Liberty” quarter; Flanagan’s design was introduced in 1932 and still is in use today.

John Flanagan, Aphrodite (ANS 0000.999.44558), AE, 71 mm

Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) and Adolph A. Weinman (1870-1952)

Both artists were discussed at length in the first installment of this series, but here it is worth noting that French and Saint-Gaudens were peers, both equally respected and respecting, and both had Weiman as an assistant before he too set out on a highly successful independent career as a sculptor and medalist. Because the statue has come to serve as an emblem for Columbia University (116th Street and Broadway), French’s Alma Mater is perhaps his best known sculpture second only to his massive, seated Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. French was recommended to the University’s trustees by Charles McKim, whose firm, McKim, Mead & White, designed the neo-Renaissance/Roman Classical Morningside campus. The finished 12 ft. tall bronze was unveiled on the grand staircase of the Low Memorial Library in late 1903, a few years after the campus had opened for classes. The conception for Alma Mater drew heavily on French’s Republic, a 65 ft. tall gilded statue created for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Both shared a similar treatment of drapery, headgear and the open-armed gesture, which in Alma Mater was meant to be simultaneously authoritative and welcoming.

John Flanagan, uniface portrait honoring Daniel Chester French on his 69th birthday (ANS 0000.999.70711), AE, 140 x 100 mm

Daniel Chester French, Alma Mater

A few years before he received the Columbia commission, French was asked by the Art Society of New York to create a memorial to Richard Morris Hunt (d. 1895), considered one of the founding fathers of American architecture and one of the leading exponents of the City Beautiful movement in the late 19th century. Hunt, also an alumnus of the École des Beaux Arts, achieved fame in New York City for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and the façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. French and architect Bruce Price’s memorial to Hunt (Fifth Avenue between 70 and 71st Streets) is a fitting Beaux Arts tribute to a Beaux Arts doyen. Unveiled in 1898, the semi-circular colonnaded portico done in a neo-Renaissance style features three bronzes, a bust of Hunt centrally located, and two allegorical statues on either end, Architecture and Painting and Sculpture, indicating the ideal assimilation of all the arts that architecture of the period aspired to.

Daniel Chester French and Bruce Price, Richard Morris Hunt Memorial

Not far from the Hunt Memorial is another by Adolph Weinman, the John Purroy Mitchel Memorial (dedicated 1928, Fifth Avenue and 90th Street). New York City’s youngest mayor, who took office in 1914 at the age of 34, Mitchel joined the Army shortly after his failed reelection bid in 1918 and was killed within months in an aviation training accident. While not as excessive as the Hunt Memorial, this one nevertheless features an elaborate temple-like entablature over Weinman’s gilded bronze bust with high-relief funerary urns to either side; the architectural components were created by Thomas Hastings and Don Barber.

Anthony de Francisci, uniface portrait of Adolph Weinman (ANS 1917.209.1, gift of Anthony de Francisci), AE, 140 x 212 mm

Adolph Weinman, Tom Hastings, and Don Barber, John Purroy Mitchel Memorial

Hermon A. MacNeil (1866-1947) and A. Stirling Calder (1870-1945)

With MacNeil and Calder we begin to move away from the core of Saint-Gaudens’ circle. Both men were raised and educated outside of New York City, MacNeil in Chelsea, Massachusetts and at Cornell, Calder in Philadelphia. While Calder could claim no direct link to the Saint-Gaudens legacy, MacNeil had been an assistant to Martiny; his wife, Carol Brooks, also a sculptor, had been a student of MacMonnies. Calder and MacNeil settled in the City around the time of the First World War and both taught at the Art Students League; Anthony de Francisci and Anna Hyatt Huntington studied there under MacNeil. But more notably, MacNeil and Calder’s paths crossed in their work on the Washington Square Arch.

In 1889 Stanford White designed a temporary wooden and papier mache triumphal arch spanning Fifth Avenue to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s Presidential inauguration in Manhattan. The arch was so well received that money was raised to build a permanent, marble structure nearby. Both MacMonnies and Martiny assisted White with the decoration of the Arch, which was dedicated on May 4, 1895. Two pedestals, however, meant for statues of Washington were left empty and it would be almost two decades before MacNeil’s statue of Washington as Commander-in-Chief would fill one pedestal (east side, in 1916), and Calder’s statue of Washington as Statesman would fill the other (west side, in 1918). Although the treatment of Washington in both differs little stylistically, it is in the allegorical figures standing behind the portraits of the first President where more variation can be found. MacNeil’s Fame and Valor show a more traditional approach to figurative art than Calder’s much more stylized and abstract Wisdom and Justice. The divergent approaches are seen in the medallic art of both sculptors as well.

Hermon A. MacNeil, George Washington as Commander in Chief (photo: Alajos L. Schuszler, City of New York, Parks and Recreation)

A. Stirling Calder, George Washington as Statesman (photo: Alajos L. Schuszler, City of New York, Parks and Recreation)

Calder’s medallic art output was fairly limited, but as his ultra-high relief, modernist piece for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 17, 1938) shows he was not adverse to tackling abstract subjects in non-traditional, dramatic ways. Of this medal he said, “I have made the protagonist dancing between pleasure and pain. A gay dance, a grave dance, a weary dance, a furious dance, but always persistent is this Dance of Life, where the better dancers live the better lives, and inspire the laggards.” His tendencies toward novelty and abstraction were also confirmed in his work, later more fully developed by his son, Alexander Calder, on the art of the mobile.

A. Stirling Calder, Dance of Life (ANS 0000.999.44576), AE, 71 mm

MacNeil’s career as a medallic artist was richer and more varied. He too created a piece for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 3, 1931) which highlighted his persistent interest, like Fraser’s, in Native American topics. In fact, MacNeil’s award medal for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition featured on the reverse a bison in a pose similar to that on Fraser’s 1913 “Buffalo” nickel; Fraser was undoubtedly inspired by the earlier medal. MacNeil’s ties to New York—and the ANS—were also manifested in an ANS sponsored medal commemorating the tercentenary of the purchase of Manhattan (1926). Over the course of his long career in medallic art, MacNeil’s style did show some evolution from the softer drapery-laden Beaux Arts tradition of the early part of the century (e.g., the Liberty of his 1916 quarter) to the more hard-edged style popular in the Art-Deco decades of the 1920s and 30s, as seen on his ANS and Society of Medalists pieces. However, he never quite let go his traditional grounding, as both Calder and de Francisci did.

Hermon A. MacNeil, Award Medal (awarded to Victor D. Brenner), 1901 Pan-American Exposition (ANS 1987.147.223, gift of Victor D. Brenner), AE, 64 mm

Hermon A. MacNeil, medal commemorating the tercentenary of the purchase of Manhattan (ANS 0000.999.4471), AR, 62 mm

Anthony de Francisci (1887-1964)

As one of the youngest inheritors of the Saint-Gaudens legacy (his teachers were Fraser, Weiman, Martiny and MacNeil), de Francisci also exhibited the most radical departure from it. His earlier medals and plaques, such as his portrait of Weinman, and even his “Peace Dollar” of 1921, show an almost slavish dependence on the tradition handed down to him. But by the mid-1920s, de Francisci was venturing forth along his own path inspired by the extreme stylization of the nascent Art Deco world. His piece for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 12, 1935) is a case in point. The shape, convexity, high-relief and the silvered bronze finish of the medal, not to mention the treatment of the subject matter, is quite unlike any medal by any of his mentors.

Anthony de Francisci, Fiat Vita (ANS 0000.999.44567), Silvered Bronze, 72 mm

For the work he did on the Independence Flagstaff in the center of Union Square (14th Street and Park Avenue), however, de Francisci adhered to a more conservative style, which was befitting the somber subject matter: the 150th anniversary (in 1926) of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On the extensive drum-like base of the Flagstaff, he created two allegorical reliefs, one depicting the evolution civilization under democratic rule, the other depicting civilization under tyranny. For many of his works, including, so he claimed, the Liberty of the “Peace Dollar,” his wife, Carmela Cafarelli, served as a model; her features can be found on the Flagstaff as well.

Anthony de Francisci, detail of the Independence Flagstaff

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973)

Of the artists discussed here, Huntington’s connection to the Saint-Gaudens group was one of the most tenuous—only MacNeil, on the fringe of the group, had been her instructor at the Art Students League—but her connection to the ANS was by far the strongest, in no small part because she married the Society’s greatest early 20th-century benefactor, Archer M. Huntington, in 1923 at the matronly age of 47. She herself became a benefactor of the Society in 1943, the same year that she produced a medal for the Society of Medalists (issue no. 27). As one of the foremost American sculptors of animals, her choice of subject matter for the medal—large African mammals—is not surprising. Visitors to the old ANS building at Audubon Terrace were made instantly aware of her proclivity to depict the animal world, since nestled around her monumental bronze statue of El Cid on the Terrace are found smaller statues of bears, birds, stags, wild boars and cats in both stone and bronze. Her obvious delight in the details of animal musculature makes her equestrian statues particularly striking; both El Cid and his mount convey an unparalleled sense of the physical power of well-exercised flesh. The same can be said of Huntington’s statue of Joan of Arc (93rd Street and Riverside Drive). Joan’s mount is equally evocative of physical power, and although Joan herself is a great deal more petite and covered up than El Cid, her taut pose, raised sword and armor cladding make her appear just as fierce and muscled.

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, Africa (ANS 0000.999.44586), AE, 71 mm

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, El Cid

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, Joan of Arc

This monument and the surrounding Joan of Arc Park was dedicated in January 1919; to commemorate the occasion the ANS asked Huntington to create a medal, which like the statue and its base (by John van Pelt) was Gothically inspired. This congruence of monuments, medals and the metropolis stands out as being particularly unique; never before had there been in the City one artist commemorating his or her own commemoration of another individual. But perhaps more significantly, considering the passage of the 19th Amendment (allowing women in the US to vote) six months after the dedication of the monument, never before had a woman sculptor created an equestrian statue for the City, nor had the City ever memorialized a woman.

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, Joan of Arc Park Memorial Medal (ANS 0000.999.4441), AV, 64 mm

See also:

Part I: Beaux Arts Architecture?

Part III: The Machine Age

Further Reading and References:

Barbara Baxter. 1987. The Beaux-Arts Medal in America (New York: ANS).

Margot Gayle and Michele Cohen. 1988. Guide to Manhattan’s Outdoor Sculpture (New York: Prentice Hall).

Kathryn Greenthal. 1985. Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Master Sculptor (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Joseph V. Noble. 1988. “The Society of Medalists,” in Alan Stahl, ed., The Medal in America. COAC Proceedings no. 4, pp. 223-247.

Luigi Pedalino. 2002. “Peter Cooper: Fostering the Numismatic Arts,” The Numismatist, 115.9, pp. 1012-1021.

Don Taxay. 1966. The U.S. Mint and Coinage: An Illustrated History from 1776 to the Present (New York: Arco Publishing, Inc.)

Cornelius Vermeule. 1971. Numismatic Art in America: Aesthetics of the United States Coinage (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University).