A Walk in Prospect Park, 3

The first part of this series is here, the second here. This one goes from the Concert Ground to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza. All images copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante.

Washington Irving

When it comes to portraits of Washington Irving, I prefer  the colossal bust by Friedrich Beer on Irving Place at 17th St. Even better: the bust by Daniel Chester French at the entrance to Irving’s home in Sunnyside, New York. On both, see here. This Irving is by the same artist who created Central Park’s Fitz-Greene Halleckwhich I’ve used before (and doubtless will again) as an example of a mediocre sculpture.

Washington Irving, by James Wilson Alexander MacDonald, 1871. Prospect Park, east of the Concert Ground.

Washington Irving, by James Wilson Alexander MacDonald, 1871. Prospect Park.

The Boathouse

Looking at the Boathouse, I always think of cake. Thirty-odd years ago I attended a wedding there of someone in the food industry. To this day, I’ve never seen a more gorgeous wedding cake. I don’t remember how it tasted, mind you, but it looked amazing.

The Boathouse, Prospect Park.

The Dongan Oak

The Dongan Oak Marker commemorates an event in the 1776 Battle of Long Island:

SITE OF THE DONGAN OAK AT THE BATTLE OF LONG ISLAND. ON THE HILL TO THE NORTH OF THIS SPOT, THE AMERICANS HAD A REDOUBT WITH TWO GUNS, TO GUARD THE OLD VALLEY GROVE ROAD, CALLED BY THE EARLY SETTLERS THE “PORTE”, MEANING GATE-WAY THROUGH THE HILLS, AND WHICH RAN IN FRONT OF THIS MONUMENT. BY THAT ROAD STOOD A WHITE-OAK, MENTIONED IN THE PATENT OF GOVERNOR DONGAN, NOVEMBER 12, 1685, AS A MARKER BETWEEN FLATBUSH AND BROOKLYN. THIS TREE WAS CUT DOWN AND THROWN ACROSS THE ROAD. WITH THE DENSE WOODS ON THE SOUTH AND SWAMPS ON THE NORTH, IT MADE AN IMPORTANT OBSTRUCTION. AMERICANS, COMMANDED BY GENERAL SULLIVAN, VALIANTLY DEFENDED THIS POSITION AGAINST THE HESSIAN GENERAL DE HEISTER, UNTIL ATTACKED FROM THE REAR BY BRITISH TROOPS, UNDER GENERAL CLINTON. THEN THEY RETIRED IN GOOD ORDER, BRINGING OFF THEIR ARTILLERY.

This post from my Hamilton Musical series includes a map of the Battle of Long Island (look for “Sullivan”) and eyewitness accounts of other parts of the battle.

The Dongan Oak memorial, commemorating an event in the Battle of Long Island, August 1776.

The Dongan Oak memorial, commemorating an event in the Battle of Long Island, August 1776.

Eagle atop the Dongan Oak memorial, commemorating an event in the Battle of Long Island, August 1776.

Bridge

This bridge reminds me of Greywacke Arch, west of the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park. The attention to detail in the Central Park and Prospect Park bridges is always remarkable: look at the finish on the inside of the tunnel.

Stranahan

James S.T. Stranahan (1808-1898) was one of the main champions of Prospect Park, and was also involved with the development of the Brooklyn docks and Ocean Parkway. This 1891 sculpture honoring him is an early work by Frederick MacMonnies, from the same period as his Nathan Hale in City Hall Park. Of this piece, MacMonnies noted:

I want to sculpture him in general lines as a great citizen. … I don’t want to have any of the lesser small insignificant traits which might interfere with the broad ones. … There is a difference in the conception of this and of a bust for instance which is destined for a parlor. (Quoted in Mary Smart, A Flight with Fame, p. 97)

For more details on the sculpture, see the NYC Parks site.

Stranahan, by Frederick MacMonnies, 1891. Behind is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch (most sculpture by MacMonnies) and one of its two columns (eagles by MacMonnies). Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Stranahan, by Frederick MacMonnies, 1891. North end of Prospect Park, facing Grand Army Plaza.

Columns

These were designed as part of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza. The eagles were designed by Frederick MacMonnies: see the 1894 photo of the monument under construction.

Columns near the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch at Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park. The eagles are by Frederick MacMonnies.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch

This monument “To The Defenders of the Union, 1861-1865” was completed in 1900. MacMonnies was commissioned to do  the chariot (quadriga) on top, which he variously called “The Triumphal Progress of Columbia,” “Peace Triumphant,” or “Armed Peace.” It was hoisted into place in 1898.

Originally, MacMonnies planned to have sculptures of Lincoln and Grant on horseback on the sides of the arch (Smart p. 192). Lincoln and Grant were eventually relegated to small reliefs facing each other inside the arch. MacMonnies instead designed groups representing “Spirit of the Army” and “Spirit of the Navy.”

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, 1898. Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Quadriga (four-horse chariot) guided by Peace, by Frederick MacMonnies, erected 1898. Top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Spirit of the Army, group on the left side of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, by Frederick MacMonnies, 1900. Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Spirit of the Navy, group on the right side of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, by Frederick MacMonnies, 1900. Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Above the arch: “To the Defenders of the Union 1861-1865.” In the spandrel on the left is Fame, holding a small figure of Victory. In the spandrel on the right, another winged allegorical figure holds a fasces (symbolizing strength through union) and the Constitution. Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Abraham Lincoln by William Rudolf O’Donovan; horse by Thomas Eakins. Relief inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

Ulysses S. Grant, by William Rudolf O’Donovan; horse by Thomas Eakins. Relief inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

North side of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park, with the columns visible through the arch.

Quadriga atop the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, 1898. Grand Army Plaza, north end of Prospect Park.

More

  • Frederick MacMonnies also created the monumental Horse Tamers for Prospect Park. It’s not included here because I didn’t walk to the south end of the Park the day I took these photos, and my only file photo is old and crappy. The NYC Parks Department pics are marginally better.
  • My most-consulted book on Frederick MacMonnies is Mary Smart, A Flight with Fame, 1996. It includes hundreds of images, including archival photos of plaster casts, letters, etc.
  • The first post on Prospect Park is here, the second here. All images copyright © 2017 Dianne L. Durante.
  • Keep in touch! Members of my email list get a weekly message with four recommendations in fields such as sculpture, painting, literature, nonfiction, movies, architecture, and decorative arts. To be added, send a message to DuranteDianne@gmail.com. You can also sign up for the RSS feed of this blog, follow me on Twitter @NYCsculpture, or friend the Forgotten Delights page on Facebook.

About Dianne L. Durante

I’m an independent scholar and freelance writer /lecturer on art and art history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are *Innovators in Sculpture¸* a survey of 5,000 years of art in two hours, and *Monuments of Manhattan,* a videoguide app by Guides Who Know that’s based on my book *Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan: A Historical Guide.*

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