Stanford White

Stanford White letter to MacMonnies, with West Point reference about the Victory bronze for the Brooklyn Soldiers and Sailors Arch.

Stanford White letter to MacMonnies, with West Point reference about the Victory bronze for the Brooklyn Soldiers and Sailors Arch

 

Two page typed letter signed and annotated, on letterhead of McKim, Mead & White, 160 Fifth Avenue, New York. 8" x 10.5", dated "October 9, 1894". Signed by Stanford White in full signature "Stanford White". Pages lightly toned with handling marks and slight wrinkling to lower right corner.

 

Stanford White and Frederick MacMonnies were the dynamic duo of architecture changing the appearance of New York during the Gilded age, including a plethora of social clubs, tony residences, prominent commercial buildings and numerous artistic monuments and arches. The two worked together creating masterpieces of design since the mid 1880's.

 

Stanford White's letter to "Mac", dated 1894, was revisiting the design for the crowning bronze sculpture which was to sit on the top of the beloved Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch in Brooklyn. Although the Arch had opened to the public on 1894, the sculptures were not added until later in 1898. McKim, Mead and White recommended bronze status and, in 1894 Frederick W. MacMonnies was hired by the City of Brooklyn to design the bronze sculptural groupings. MacMonnies added Army and Navy sculptures and the allegorical crowning sculpture atop the Arch. It depicts three female sculptures, the winged goddess of victory in the center following victorious combat with instruments of war and the Quadriga representing the Union Army: two winged female attendants are seen removing two of the four Quadriga horses for peacetime use while trumpeting the victory and emancipation. The Quadriga was cast in Paris at the LeBlanc Barbedienne Foundry.

 

White's letter was acknowledging Mac physical health concerns, and the views of West Point regarding the monument and the state of the current bronze:

 "As I heard you have been quite ill and had gone to Italy. I thought it best not to bother you about the figure of Victory. We will not, under any circumstances, have you do anything but re-model the figure. If you will remodel the figure and ship the same on board the steamer, we will make arrangements about paying for the bronze, taking down the old figure and putting up the new one … The especial thing which seems to bother the officers at West Point is the great curl of drapery which is on the present figure. I am awful sorry to trouble you with this, but I am sure that you would agree with me, if you were here, and of course, this monument is too important a one to have anything vitally wrong, and certainly the size of the present Victory is very harmful to it."

 

The November 6, 1898, edition of the New-York Tribune pictured "Brooklyn's Quadriga … Being Placed on the Memorial Arch…" The February 12, 1899, edition of The New York Times reported "The Quadriga of Frederick MacMonnies has been placed upon the Soldiers and Sailors' Memorial Arch at the main entrance to Prospect Park, Brooklyn … It is a colossal bronze group representing the triumph of American arms and the dignity of the Nation … This great work of art was placed upon the arch recently without any ceremony attending it … The work was to be completed by MacMonnies in two years in Paris, where he now resides. The sculptor, however, took four years to finish the group to his satisfaction…"

 

A fascinating correspondence between architect and artist during a significant period of architectural design. Both men dominated the architectural scene in New York at the time. The Soldiers and Sailors Arch designated a New York City Landmark in 1973, and the crowning sculpture was restored after the chariot's figure fell out in 1976. A lovely image of the arch is shown below as part of this listing.

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Item: 64503

Price: $1,200.00
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Stanford White
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