Washington Square Park
This marble statue depicts a resolute George Washington (1732–1799) as Commander-in-Chief. Standing in repose on the northern face of Washington Square Arch’s eastern pier before human personifications of fame and valor, the 16-foot marble figure with hands resting on the pommel of an unsheathed sword was sculpted by Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947).
Born in College Point, Queens, Hermon MacNeil studied art in both Rome and Paris. He rose to prominence in this country with his large-scale figurative sculptures, including the McKinley Memorial in Columbus, Ohio. MacNeil’s work graces all five boroughs in New York City. From a cast of his Sun Vow in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to the Flushing War Memorial in Queens, as well as four busts in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans at Bronx Community College, MacNeil’s artistic mark is strong throughout the city. Other notable works include the figures on the eastern pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. Macneil was also the first American to receive the Prix de Rome, and he designed the “Standing Liberty” quarter, minted from 1916 to 1930, and one of the most heavily collected coins in the world.
Designed by Stanford White (1853-1906), Washington Square Arch was dedicated on May 4, 1895. White’s initial, elaborate plans included a pier sculpture abutting the arch, but these designs were never completed. His spandrel panels depicting War, Peace, Fame and Posterity remained unadorned for more than twenty years. In 1916, Washington as Commander-in-Chief Accompanied by Fame and Valor was installed at the Arch. Washington as President, Accompanied by Wisdom and Justice, sculpted by Alexander Stirling Calder, was installed at the site two years later.
Though Washington Square Arch has been cleaned and maintained several times over the past few decades, the marble sculptures continue to show signs of erosion. On August 16, 2001, Mayor Giuliani announced that he would allocate $1.5 million to the restoration of Washington Square Arch. The City Council, the Manhattan Borough President, and several private sponsors have also contributed funds to the project.
George Washington Accompanied by Fame and Valor Details
- Sculptor: Hermon Atkins MacNeil
- Description: Standing figure (three/quarters round, over life-size) before two figures (over life-size) in high relief, on integral plinth, pedestal
- Materials: Granite
- Cast: 1916
- Dedicated: 1916
- Donor: Washington Arch Committee
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