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Tigress and Cubs map_it

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This striking bronze sculpture is one of the oldest in Central Park. Sculpted by Auguste Nicolas Cain (1822–1894), it depicts a tigress and her young who are in the process of devouring a peacock.

Cain was born in Paris, France on November 4, 1822. His first professional experience was as a wood worker, but he then was influenced by his father-in-law, sculptor Pierre Jules Mene (1810-1871), and subsequently studied sculpture with contemporary artists such as Francois Rude (1784-1855), best known for his work on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Cain became associated with the animaliers, a group of artists dedicated to depicting animal themes. Originating in France, this genre combined naturalistic detail and romanticism; some of its major adherents were Christophe Fratin (who sculpted the Eagles and Prey, also in Central Park) and Antoine-Louis Barye (1796–1875), one of Cain’s teachers.

Cain exhibited animal figures at the Parisian Art Salon of 1846, including a wax group of a linnet songbird defending her nest against a rat. Soon recognized for his ability, Cain was awarded third class medals in 1851 and 1863, and also received a prize for his work at the Exposition Universelle of 1867. During this period, Cain was prolific and received numerous important commissions. After 1868 he spent much of his time on monumental statuary, including a massive equestrian statue of Duke Charles of Brunswick for the City of Geneva (1879).

Cast at the F. Bardienne Foundry in Paris, Tigress and Cubs was presented in 1867 to the Board of Commissioners of Central Park by twelve New York citizens, including artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872). The piece was placed in a wooded area on a rock outcropping near the lake. In 1934, it was relocated to the Central Park Zoo, and after the 1988 renovation of the zoo, it took its current position in a protected setting between the Intelligence Garden and the Tropical Zone. In 1996, the Central Park Conservancy’s Sculpture Conservation Program conserved the statue. Though real tigers no longer roam the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center, Cain’s masterful bronze continues to delight zoo patrons.

Photo of Tigress and Cubs sculpture in Central Park

Tigress and Cubs Details

  • Location: Central Park Zoo; intelligence garden (see memo)
  • Sculptor: Auguste Cain (1822-1894)
  • Description: Animal group
  • Materials: Bronze, Deer isle granite
  • Dimensions: 6'3"h x 3'w x 8'6"
  • Dedicated: October or November, 1867
  • Foundry: F. Barbedienne, Fondeur, Paris
  • Donor: Citizens (?)

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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Know Before You Go

Ice Skating RinksLasker Rink (Temporarily Closed)

Lasker Rink is closed due to a refrigeration malfunction. Parks is trying to repair the rink's concrete slab and valves to identify and fix the source of the leak, in the hope of reopening the rink to the public later this season. In the meantime, the Trump Organization along with NYC Parks will work with the community and other area rinks to try to accommodate hockey and skating groups who call Lasker Rink home. Refunds will also be issued to any organizations who reserved and paid for use of the rink during the time that it will be closed.

Central Park Weather

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    69°F
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