ARCHITECT STANFORD WHITE WRITES SCULPTOR FREDERICK WILLIAM MACMONNIES ABOUT THE VICTORY BRONZE FOR THE CIVIL WAR BATTLE MONUMENT AT WEST POINT: THIS DYNAMIC DUO WHO CHANGED THE APPEARANCE OF NEW YORK DURING THE GILDED AGE, HERE APPLY THEIR TALENTS IN HONOR OF OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS WHO DIED FOR THE UNION DURING THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
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. Comes with a vintage postcard image of the monument. In fine condition, with minor age toning and handling marks and slight wrinkling to lower right corner.
The Battle Monument at West Point is a large Tuscan column monument located on Trophy Point at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, dedicated “to the memory of brave men, loyalty, patriotism and honor.” Inscribed on bronze straps belting the eight monumental "cannon balls" circling the column are the names of 2230 officers and soldiers who died for the Union during the Civil War. The site for the monument was dedicated on 15 July 1864 by General George McClellan during the American Civil War. But the monument itself was dedicated on 30 May 1897 by surviving American Civil War veterans. The Victory statue that now tops the monument is actually the second version of the statue. The disappointing news that the sculpture, when hoisted into place in 1894, proved too large, and White and West Point officials asked MacMonnies to re-do it in a reduced size and make some other changes requested by the West Point committee. The committee believed the figure was too sensual, particularly the drapery at the junction of the legs, and feared it “would fire up the young cadets too much”. MacMonnies redesigned Victory accordingly. West Point decided to call it “Fame” rather than “Victory”.