Audrey Munson in New York

“POMONA” of the Pulitzer Fountain  

  • Location: Grand Army Plaza, 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets
  • Sculptor: Karl Bitter/Isidore Konti
  • Built: 1916

The exquisite female figure atop the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel is an allegorical depiction of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance. Symbolizing bounty, she holds a basket of fruit as the water pours out into the pools below decorated by rams’ heads and horns of plenty. This fountain was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter and finished by Isidore Konti. The architect was Thomas Hastings of the noted New York architectural firm Carrère and Hastings. Joseph Pulitzer, who died in 1911, bequeathed $50,000 for the Pulitzer Fountain, with instructions to create “a fountain like those in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.”


“CIVIC FAME” atop Manhattan Municipal Building

  • Location: top of Manhattan Municipal Building, Centre Street at Chambers Street
  • Sculptor: Adolph Alexander Weinman
  • Built: 1913

Here Audrey Munson is a “Civic Fame.” The statue was commissioned by New York City to celebrate the consolidation of the five boroughs into the City of New York. The figure is barefoot and balances upon a globe. She carries a shield bearing the New York City coat of arms and wears a crown with five turrets, representing the five boroughs. The crown also includes dolphins as a symbol of “New York’s maritime setting.” At 25 feet (7.6 m) it is the second-largest statue in Manhattan after the  Statue of Liberty.


USS Maine National Monument

  • Location: Central Park South at Columbus Circle (8th Avenue and 59th Street)
  • Sculptor: Attilio Piccirilli, Architect H. van Buren Magonigle
  • Dedicated: 1913

“COLUMBIA TRIUMPHANT”

“PEACE”

The Maine Monument located at Merchant’s Gate of Central Park features Audrey Munson twice – on top as Columbia Triumphant, and on the bottom as Peace. The monument was erected to honor the 258 American sailors who perished when the battleship Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana. Cuba was then under Spanish rule, and even though the causes of the explosion remains unclear, the incident sparked the Spanish-American war. The bronze figure atop the monument is Columbia Triumphant in a seashell chariot led by three hippocampi (half horse, half seahorse). The bronze was recovered from the guns of the USS Maine itself. The sculptures at the base depict allegorical figures of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Courage, Fortitude, War, Justice, and Peace. The war was largely provoked by the media, with the monument being built on the money raised by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.


“MANHATTAN” and “BROOKLYN” from the Manhattan Bridge

  • Location: originally the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, currently in front of the Brooklyn Museum
  • Sculptor: Daniel Chester French
  • Built: 1915-1916

Statues of Brooklyn and Manhattan used to flank the Brooklyn entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Due to modified traffic patterns, they were removed in 1963 and relocated to the entrance of the Brooklyn Museum. “Brooklyn” and “Manhattan” are allegorical representations of the boroughs. Dignified “Manhattan” has a sense of pride and superiority about her. Her foot rests on a chest of money symbolizing Manhattan as a great financial center. She holds a winged globe as a symbol of authority. The ships are telling of the status of Manhattan as an important port and an international trade hub. A peacock, which usually symbolizes immortality, is at her feet. “Brooklyn,” on the other hand, is calm and poetic. She is surrounded by a church spire to symbolize Brooklyn’s spirituality; a lyre in her hands and a boy with a book are references to culture and education.


“BEAUTY” at the entrance to NYPL

  • Location: New York Public Library Main Branch, Fifth Avenue at East 41st Street
  • Sculptor: Frederick MacMonnies
  • Built: 1911–1917

Audrey Munson was a model for “Beauty” at the entrance of the New York Public Library. The statues flanking the entrance to the New York Public Library are Truth on the north side and Beauty on the south. The sculptor, Frederick MacMonnies, was trained at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. MacMonnies’ other works include Nathan Hale in City Hall Park and Bacchante and Infant Faun in the Metropolitan Museum. He also created components of the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.


“MEMORY” at Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial

  • Location: Broadway at 106th Street
  • Sculptor: Augustus Lukeman
  • Dedicated: 1915
  • Inscription: 
    IN MEMORY OF ISIDOR AND IDA STRAUS / WHO WERE LOST AT SEA IN THE TITANIC DISASTER APRIL 15, 1912 / LOVELY AND PLEASANT WERE THEY IN THEIR LIVES AND IN / THEIR DEATH THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED.

Audrey Munson is a nymph gazing over a calm expanse of water in memory of Ida and Isidor Straus, husband and wife, who perished together on RMS Titanic. The Strauses, who were co-owners of Macy’s department store, lived on Broadway, between 105th and 106th Streets, one block south of the location of the memorial. Public subscriptions of $20,000 were raised to commission this monument. The passage in the monument’s inscription – “Lovely and pleasant were they in their lives and in their death they were not parted” – refers to Ida’s choice to stay aboard the sinking Titanic with her husband, rather than get into a lifeboat with other women.


“DUTY” and “SACRIFICE” at the Firemen’s Memorial

  • Location: Riverside Drive and West 100th Street
  • Sculptor: Attilio Piccirilli Architect: Harold Van Buren Magonigle
  • Dedicated: 1913
  • Inscription: 

TO THE MEN OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT / OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK / WHO DIED AT THE CALL OF DUTY / SOLDIERS IN A WAR THAT NEVER ENDS / THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED / BY THE PEOPLE OF A GRATEFUL CITY / ERECTED MCMXII

Like other large cities, New York was devastated by fires in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fire safety improved in the late 19th and early 20th century, but firefighting remained a dangerous task. Bishop Henry C. Potter proposed a memorial to firefighters who had died while performing their duties. The monument is flanked to the north and south with groups of sculptures representing “Duty” and “Sacrifice”. The figure of Duty is a mother seated next to a fire hydrant, holding a fire helmet and a fireman’s coat embracing a child. Sacrifice is shown as a woman embracing the body of her fireman husband killed in the line of duty.


MOURNING VICTORY” from the Melvin Memorial

  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Sculptor: Daniel Chester French
  • 1912–15
Mourning Victory from the Melvin Memorial
Mourning Victory from the Melvin Memorial, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The funerary monument was commissioned to honor the donor’s three brothers who had died in the Civil War. The original marble memorial was erected in 1908 at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. Four years later, this Metropolitan Museum replica was carved. The massive figure of Mourning Victory emerges from the block of stone projecting two moods: melancholy, in her downcast eyes and somber expression, and triumph, in the American flag and laurel she holds high. Daniel Chester French captured the sense of calm after the storm of battle, which must have referred to the pride, after the sorrow of grieving, felt by the surviving brother.

 


“MEMORY”

  • Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Sculptor: Daniel Chester French
  • 1917–19
Memory, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Memory, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The allegory of memory is depicted as a female figure holding a mirror ruminating the ephemeral nature of beauty, youth, and life. Memory was translated into Carrara marble by Piccirilli Brothers, the Bronx family firm responsible for carving many of French’s sculptures.


“CONTINENTS” at the Customs House

  • Location: In front of the United States Customs House, facing Bowling Green between State and Whitehall Streets
  • Sculptor: Daniel Chester French
  • Built: 1907

Most likely modeled on Audrey Munson are the four continents in front of the United States Customs House.


“SPIRIT of COMMERCE” at Manhattan Entrance to Manhattan Bridge

  • Location: Manhattan entrance to Manhattan Bridge at the north side of Canal Street
  • Sculptor: Carl Augustus Heber
  • Date: 1909–1914

Audrey Munson is the Spirit of Commerce on the north side of the Manhattan entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. The Manhattan end of the bridge features a Beaux-Arts plaza with an arch modeled after Porte St. Denis in Paris and a colonnade after Bernini’s St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Two winged figures, female and male, represent “The Spirit of Commerce” on the left and “The Spirit of Industry” on the right.


The reclining figure above the Frick Museum Entrance

  • Location: 1 East 70th Street
  • Sculptor: Sherry Fry
  • Date: 1914

 

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