This modest, intimate white marble sculpture depicting a nude boy with a faithful dog, has an uncertain historical provenance. The piece is inscribed 1866, and said to have been given to the city in November 1867 by an A.K. Gardner, M.D. It may have been displayed in provisional sculpture galleries established at Central Park’s Arsenal around 1870 or in the 1870s and 1880s at Mount Saint-Vincent in northern Central Park, on a rise above the site of today’s Conservatory Garden.
The sculpture was reported stored at Central Park’s 79th Street Yard in October 1934, and the following year was stored at the Seventh Street storage facility in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, before being placed on exhibit at the elephant house at the new Prospect Park Zoo, which opened on July 3, 1935.
Another terra-cotta version of the statue, inscribed “Protection to the Dumb,” is displayed in the Brooklyn Museum’s decorative arts galleries. That piece is attributed to the Union Porcelain Works, which was in business from 1850 to ca. 1908, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The sculpture is a quaint blend of classical imagery from antiquity and Victorian domesticity.
In 1996, the work of art was relocated to the Education Center of the newly renovated Prospect Park Zoo, and is now under the care of the New York Wildlife Conservation Society.
Boy and Dog Details
- Location: Prospect Park Zoo; inside Education Building
- Sculptor: Karl Mueller
- Description: Group of two figures (life size)
- Materials: Marble
- Dimensions: H: 3' (approximate)
- Cast: ca. 1867
- Dedicated: November 1867
- Donor: A.K. Gardner, M.D.
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