The sculptors

The sculptors

It is not always clear who the sculptor of a statue was. <In many cases there is more clarity about the dignitary or dignitaries who unveiled the statue or who took the initiative to erect it, but unfortunately, no mention of the artist or artists who created it.> Nevertheless, I have been able to determine the sculptor of nearly three quarters of the equestrian statues listed in Annex 1.

In the chapter about the history of equestrian statues, I have already paid attention to some of the most important sculptors of them.

Before going into more detail about some of these, and other sculptors, I would like to mention that <one of the biggest challenges of creating an equestrian statue is the combination of two dissimilar figures – the horse and the rider – into one harmonious unity.> Some sculptors knew their limits and combined their talents with those of others. The impressive statue of William Tecumseh Sherman in New York (see Section 2.11.7) is one of the most famous works of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but Alexander P. Proctor created the horse at Saint-Gaudens’ request.

For a good equestrian statue, the depiction of the horse is no less important than the likeness of the rider. Some famous sculptors, such as Emanuel Frémiet in France and Anna Vaughn Hyat-Huntington in the US, started off as ‘animaliers’: sculptors of animals. Some of their creations are among the best of the existing statues, not the least due to the character of their horses.

The Florentine artist Donatello (c. 1386–1466) stayed, together with the architect Brunelleschi, for a few years in Rome.Their sojourn in the city was decisive for the entire development of Italian art in the fifteenth century. Brunelleschi’s buildings and Donatello’s sculptures are both considered supreme expressions of the spirit of this era in architecture and sculpture, and they exercised a potent influence on the artists of the age. Around 1430, Cosimo de’ Medici, the foremost art patron of his era, commissioned from Donatello the bronze of David. It was to be the first major work of Renaissancesculpture. In 1433, Donatello was lured away to Padua to make the equestrian statue of Gattamelata, the first monumental equestrian statue since antiquity.

Giambologna (1529–1608) was an Italian sculptor in all but birth (as his original name – Jean de Boulogne – shows). Hesettled in Florence at the age of 24, and died there at the age of 79. The Medici never allowed him to leave Florence, as they rightly feared that either the Austrian or Spanish Habsburgs would entice him into permanent employment. He transformed the Florentine Mannerism into a style of European significance. His statue of the Florentine Cosimo I was a masterpiece, and it would become the standard for European royal courts. As previously stated, the influence of Giambologna was enormous. He or one of his pupils created all the equestrian statues erected in the first half of the seventeenth century.

As he creator of seven equestrian statues, Carlo Marochetti (1805–1867) was one of the most productive sculptors. He was born in Turin (Italy), brought up in Paris and studied in Rome. He remained in France until 1848, and then moved to London. Marochetti was not only a very productive artist, but also a gifted one. He created some marvellous equestrian statues. Some of his finest works are the statue of Filiberto di Savoia, the famous one of Richard I in London (see Section 2.4.1) and the one of Wellington in Glasgow (see Section 2.4.

Edward Clark Potter (1857–1923), an American sculptor, also created seven equestrian statues, some of these in co-operation with Daniel Chester French, who crafted the horses. From 1883 he was an assistant to French (1850–1931), and studied in Paris from 1887 to 1889 with Emmanuel Frémiet among others, thereby becoming an accomplished animal sculptor. Together with French, he created three statues, among which are the one of Grant in Philadelphia and of Hooker in Boston, Massachusetts. Some of his other statues are of Slocum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and of Kearny in Arlington, Virginia (see Section 2.11.7).

Emmanuel Frémiet (1824–1910) devoted himself right from the start to being a sculptor of animals; an animalier. He is famous for his equestrian statue of Jeanne d’Arc. He completed the first one in 1874 and replaced it with a better version in 1889. There are few equestrian statues that are as frequently copied as this one.

Other equestrians by Frémiet are of Stephen III of Moldavia in Iasi, Rumania, Napoléon I in Laffrey, Louis d’Orléans in Pierrefonds (the first equestrian statue that I photographed) and Bertrand du Guesclin in Dinan, the last three all in France.

Henri Kirke Brown (1814–1886) and his nephew Henry Kirke Bush-Brown (1857–1935), were the sculptors of seven equestrian statues in the US. Brown was one of the first in America to cast his own bronzes. His impressive statue of George Washington in New York City was the second equestrian statue made in the US. This statue, with its classical Marcus Aurelius pose and gesture of the rider, is a beautiful example of Neoclassicism. Other equestrians created by Brown include the statue of Scott, with the horse’s testicles added on the specific request of the family (see Section 1.7.4), and Greene, both in Washington DC. In addition, he was responsible for three equestrian statues of commanders of the Union Army (Meade, Reynolds and Sedgwick) at the Gettysburg battlefield and of the Revolutionary war hero, Wayne, in Valley Forge (see Section 2.11.7). Bush-Brown was known for his commitment to historical accuracy and his attention to detail.

Anna Hyatt-Huntington (1876–1973) was an exceptional and highly productive American sculptress. She created at least seven equestrian statues and three equestrian sculptures. She was an animalier of outstanding achievement. As Eleanor M. Mellon states:

In studying her work one is immediately impressed by her sympathy with and understanding of the fundamental character of her subjects. Her great love for animals is apparent. Compare e.g. Jeanne d’Arc, one of her best-known works in New York and The Cid in Seville. In comparing these two equestrian statues, one feels her ability to express the individuality of the rider; she also fits the character of the horse to that of the horseman. Jeanne d’Arc is mounted on a young, sensitive and spirited steed reined in and held under control, giving a feeling of youth, enthusiasm and courage, which we associate with Saint Joan. The Cid rides a very different type of horse, much heavier in build. With its dignified rider this makes it a magnificent composition. They give an impression of tremendous power and vitality. (See Sections 2.3.3 and 2.11.11 for details of both statues).

Apart from these two formidable statues, the works of Huntington include the dramatic statues of Marti in New York, Ludington in Carmel, New York, and Israel Putnam in Redding, Connecticut ; all created when she was in her eighties and nineties! It must be said that the first two statues (one of which, the Jeanne d’Arc, she became famous for) are among her best works. Her equestrian statues of Abraham Lincoln in Bethel, Connecticut, and Andrew Jackson in Lancaster, South Carolina, show these two war heroes peacefully in their youth.

One impressive equestrian sculpture that she created is The Torch Bearers, an allegorical equestrian sculpture in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, with copies in Madrid and Valencia among other places. Some of these sculptures were cast in aluminium, being the earliest sculptures made from that material.

Anna Hyatt-Huntington, working over a period of 70 years in a traditional, academic style, is recognized as one of world’s finest animal sculptors. Replicas of her statues and sculptures can be found all around the world.

Cyrus Edwin Dallin (1861–1944) created only one equestrian statue: of Paul Revere in Boston, and that not without pain. Only the fifth version of the design was accepted, and once accepted there was a lack of funds, as a result of which the statue was only unveiled in 1940 (see Section 2.11.2). Dallin was best known for his outstanding four-piece equestrian sculpture series called The Epic of the Indian, consisting of A Signal of Peace, in Chicago, The Medicine Man, in Philadelphia, The Protest, and Appeal to the Great Spirit (see below). The last mentioned, installed outside the main entrance to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, is a magnificent sculpture that became an icon of American art, and is Dallin’s most famous work. The plaster version of The Protest was never cast as a full-size bronze, and survives only in statuette form. Another sculpture, The Scout, created for an exposition in San Francisco in 1915, was temporarily placed in Kansas City, Missouri, on its way back by train to Dallin’s studio in Boston. The statue became so popular that the residents raised $15,000 to buy it.

Louis Tuaillon (1862–1919) was a German sculptor. He sculpted four equestrian statues: Friedrich III in Bremen and in Cologne, Wilhelm II in Cologne and Friedrich Wilhelm III in Merseburg.. However, Tuaillon is most famous for his Mounted Amazon.