ARCHITECT STANFORD WHITE WRITES SCULPTOR FREDERICK WILLIAM MACMONNIES ABOUT THE VICTORY BRONZE FOR THE BROOKLYN SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ARCH: THIS DYNAMIC DUO CHANGED THE APPEARANCE OF NEW YORK DURING THE GILDED AGE
Stanford White (1853-1906) Typed Letter Signed With Full Signature And Annotated In His Hand, "Aff[ectionately] Y[ours], Stanford White", 2 pages, on letterhead of "McKim, Mead & White, 160 Fifth Avenue, New York", 8 x 10.5, October 9, 1894, by famous American architect who was also a partner in the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the frontrunner among Beaux-Arts firms. He designed many houses for the rich as well as numerous civic, institutional, and religious buildings, including Washington Arch, The Herald Building, Players Club and the second Madison Square Garden in New York City, as well as Trinity Church in Boston. His design principles embodied the "American Renaissance". In 1903, his murder by millionaire Harry Thaw made sensational newspaper headlines. This letter is to Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937) the best known expatriate American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts school, as successful and lauded in France as he was in the United States. He was also a highly accomplished painter and portraitist. In part: "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 bonze, 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...." This is 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. In fine condition, with minor age toning and handling marks and slight wrinkling to lower right corner.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch at the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, across from the main entrance to Prospect Park at Flatbush Avenue, is a triumphal arch dedicated "To the Defenders of the Union, 1861-1865." Olmstead and Vaux, the landscape architects of Prospect Park, in collaboration with architect Stanford White, designed the Arch. General W.T. Sherman spoke at the laying of the cornerstone in 1889 and President Grover Cleveland spoke at the 1892 unveiling. When White's firm was hired to overhaul the plaza in 1893, they recommended that sculptural elements be added to the arch. They commissioned MacMonnies to create three bronze groups. Stanford White's letter is revisiting the design for the crowing 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 in 1894, the sculptures were not added until later in 1898. The casting would be done in Paris at the LeBlanc Barbedienne Foundry.