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The Indian Hunter

History

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

This striking bronze statue by John Quincy Adams Ward (1830–1910) demonstrates the technical mastery of an artist later dubbed “the dean of American sculptors.” It depicts a Native American hunter, bow in hand, restraining his snarling hunting dog. Cast in 1866 and dedicated on February 4, 1869, the statue was the first sculpture by an American artist to be placed in Central Park, and is one of the oldest works on outdoor display in the park.

The Indian Hunter derives from Ward’s artistic exploration of that theme beginning in the late 1850s; he displayed a smaller version of the subject at the Washington Art Association in 1859, and three years later, he exhibited a statuette of the Indian Hunter at the National Academy of Design. After the Civil War, Ward set about enlarging his conception to a full-size sculpture. In an effort to include naturalistic details, he traveled to the Dakotas, making sketches and three-dimensional models based on his direct observations of Native Americans.

Returning to New York, he crafted a full-scale, life-sized plaster model that was displayed in 1865 at Snedicor’s Gallery. Such was the romantic appreciation of Indian life, coupled with respect for Ward’s noble interpretation, that in 1866 a group of 23 prominent citizens - many of them Ward’s artistic peers - financed the $10,000 cost of casting the artwork. The acclaimed finished work was then displayed in 1867 at the Paris Exposition, and secured Ward’s prestige in the art world.

In 1868, the Committee of the Indian Hunter Fund presented the statue to the Board of Commissioners of Central Park, and commented, “It justly ranks among the best examples of the plastic art, for its bold and vigorous treatment, and its truthful delineation. We have the peculiar satisfaction in placing at your disposal a work so truly American in subject, and so admirably executed, by one of our native and most celebrated sculptors.” The commissioners concurred with this estimation, and selected a prominent placement southwest of the Mall.

Ward went on to a long and prolific career. He ultimately contributed nine sculptures to the parks of New York, among them Roscoe Conkling (1893) in Madison Square Park, Alexander Holley (1888) in Washington Square Park, William Earl Dodge (1885), now in Bryant Park, Horace Greeley (1890), now in City Hall Park, Henry Ward Beecher (1891) in Columbus Park, Brooklyn, and William Shakespeare (1872), The Pilgrim (1885), and the Seventh Regiment Memorial (1874) in Central Park.

Scholars have noted that the Indian Hunter may have been influenced by classical forerunners such as the famed Roman Borghese Warrior statue, with its forward leaning pose. In 1937, the Parks monuments crew replaced the vandalized bronze bow and in 1992, the Central Park Conservancy Monuments Program fully restored the statue. Returned to its former glory, this early work by Ward, with its fusion of realism and idealism, maintains its popularity with park goers.

 

The Indian Hunter Details

  • Location: South end of the Mall
  • Sculptor: John Quincy Adams Ward
  • Description: Figure (over life-size) and dog on pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze; Rockport granite (polished)
  • Dimensions: H: 10' W: 5' D: 6'3"
  • Cast: 1866
  • Dedicated: February 4. 1869
  • Foundry: L.A. Amouroux, N.Y.
  • Donor: Subscription by artists and art patrons

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

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

Directions to Central Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 3 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

ParkCentral Park

Raccoons in Central Park have tested positive for canine distemper virus. Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it may be transmitted to dogs. Keep your pets safe in the park.

Please avoid wildlife and make sure your pets have up-to-date distemper and rabies vaccines. Keep your pet on a leash, especially during dawn and dusk.

Please call 311 or notify an on-site Parks employee if you see a sick or injured animal.

If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water immediately. Call your doctor to see if you need tetanus or rabies shots, and call 311 to report the bite.

The Health Department will continue to monitor this condition.


Anticipated Completion: Summer 2018

Nature CentersBelvedere Castle Visitor Center

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The castle will reopen to the public in 2019. To reach our Urban Park Rangers at Central Park, please call (212) 360-1444.

ParkCentral Park

Beginning Monday, February 26, Belvedere Castle will be closed for restoration. The surrounding plaza and terrace remain open, but will also close in the coming weeks. The Belvedere will reopen to the public in 2019. For more information on the restoration of Belvedere Castle, please visit Central Park Conservancy's website.

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