British Garden at Hanover Square
Abraham De Peyster
This impressive bronze portrait statue, created by American sculptor George Edwin Bissell (1839-1920), depicts Mayor Abraham De Peyster (1657–1728). Born in New Amsterdam (now known as “Manhattan”), De Peyster came from a prosperous mercantile family. In his youth he spent nine years working on the family farm in the Netherlands, before returning in 1684 to New Amsterdam. He quickly ascended the City’s political ladder, occupying almost all of the important colonial offices, including alderman, mayor, member of the king’s council, and acting governor. De Peyster amassed great wealth, and by the end of his life he is said to have been one of the city’s wealthiest merchants.
In the late 19th century, John Watts De Peyster, Abraham’s great-great-great grandson, commissioned this statue. Bissell, whose family ran a marble company in Poughkeepsie, New York, sculpted the piece in his studio in Mount Vernon, New York, and cast the bronze at the E. Gruet foundry in Paris. He also sculpted the portrait of President Chester A. Arthur (1898) located in Madison Square Park, as well that of John Watts in Trinity Church cemetery. He depicted De Peyster, sporting a lavish cloak, wig, army boots, and sword in hand denoting his political and military roles in the colonial government.
The De Peyster sculpture was originally placed in the center of nearby Bowling Green Park in 1896, at a site once occupied by a statue of King George III. Vandalism to the statue prompted the resetting of the sword in 1939, and an overall conservation effort in 1942. In 1972, park and subway renovations at Bowling Green forced removal of the statue. It was relocated four years later on a new pink granite pedestal (on which the original inscriptions were transcribed) in Hanover Square. In 1999, the sculpture was conserved by the City Parks Foundation Monuments Conservation Program, with funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, the American Express Company, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The sculpture has been removed from the park to accommodate the redesign of Hanover Square as the British Memorial Garden. It has been temporarily placed in storage until a new location has been determined for its reinstallation.
Updated Apr. 09, 2007
Abraham De Peyster Details
- Sculptor: George Edwin Bissell
- Description: Seated figure (over life-size) with integral plinth, on pedestal
- Materials: Bronze, porphyry granite (polished)
- Dimensions: Figure H: 7'4" W: 4' D: 4'5"; Pedestal H: 8' 11" W: 6'9" D: 7'
- Cast: 1896
- Dedicated: 1896
- Foundry: E. Gruet Jne. Fondeur
- Donor: John Watts De Peyster
- Inscription: Pedestal front, top:
ABRAHAM DE PEYSTER/ 1685 ALDERMAN, 1691-95 MAYOR, 1701 COMPTROLLER,/ AND 1708 RECEIVER GENERAL OF THE PORT OF NEW YORK;/ 1698 MEMBER OF EARL BELLOMONT'S COUNCIL / 1698 ASSOCIATE JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT / 1700 COLONEL COMMANDING REGIMENT OF MILITIA OR CITY TRAINED BANDS/ 1701 CHIEF JUSTICE; 1701-PRESIDENT OF THE KINGS COUNCIL AND THUS/
ACTING GOVERNOR OF THE PROVINCE OF NEW YORK./ 1706-1721 TREASURER OF THE PROVINCES OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY./
BORN 8TH JULY, 1657 -- DIED 2ND AUG 1728./ JOHANNES, COL. ABRAHAM DE PEYSTER'S FATHER/ WAS BURGOMASTER 1673, ALDERMAN 1666-69, 1673-76,/ AND DEPUTY MAYOR, N.Y. 1677./ JOHANNES, JR. HIS SON, ALDERMAN, 1700-1-10, MAYOR 1698.
Pedestal front, bottom:
ERECTED BY/ JOHN WATTS DE PEYSTER,/ 7TH GENERATION IN DIRECT DECENT/ RESIDENT OF, AND 6TH BORN IN/ 1ST WARD, CITY OF NEW YORK."
GEO E BISSELL, SCULPTOR, 1896
3) [on self-base, lower left] "E GRUET JNE FONDEUR PARIS"
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