Southern Remembrances in Stone
The South has not produced a domestic architecture since 1865 as distinctive as that of the Old South, though the traditions of older styles of architecture prevail to this day and thwart the acceptance of mediocre and soulless modernist (read: Marxist) boxes. The cities, big and small, of the South also enjoy a plethora of important works by notable sculptors commissioned to create permanent reminders of those who fought for the liberty and independence of the South.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Southern Remembrances in Stone
“America could never be called a sculpture-loving nation like France or Italy. A trip through either of these countries impresses one with the poverty of America sculpturally. The emotions, aspirations, and triumphs of these nations seem to have crystallized through the centuries into marble and bronze monuments.
A ready excuse for the lack of sculpture in the South is the poverty that was prevalent after the Civil War, the period in which the North erected so many of its monuments. That this explanation is not truly sufficient, however, is evident when one checks the sculptural commissions given in the South since the [First] World War.
The only State in the South that can boast of a long list of sculptured possessions is Virginia. Richmond as the capital has a fine array of monuments. Notable among these are Washington by Houdon; Robert E. Lee by Mercie; Jefferson Davis and General Wickham by Valentine. Charlottesville, the seat of the University of Virginia, has almost as many monuments as Richmond and several of high quality – a Lewis and Clark group and an equestrian Stonewall Jackson by Charles Keck; a second monument to George Rogers Clark of great merit by Robert L. Aitken, and the expressive Thomas Jefferson by Karl Bitter. Arlington, of course, adds to the State’s total.
A glance through the list off monuments in other cities in the State shows work by Henry Adams and Bryan Baker, monuments by Charles Keck in several places, and many monuments by George Julian Zolney. Even the smaller cities in Virginia are thus seen to call upon sculptors of national reputation to design their memorials.
After Virginia several States group together in the quantity and quality of their sculpture. Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are about in the same class.
At Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia, the most stupendous sculptural undertaking is in progress that has ever been conceived anywhere in the world. The idea of carving the face of the gigantic Stone Mountain as a memorial to the Confederacy originated with Mrs. Helen Plane and was adopted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916.
Gutzon Borglum was appointed sculptor, and carving was begun on 1923. In 1925, following severe disagreements, his contract was cancelled and Augustus Lukeman was appointed his successor. At present the three main figures of the central group, those of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, are being carved. Immediately upon the completion of these figures, however, the next phase of the work to be undertaken will be the Memorial Hall.
In Georgia there are of further note several monuments by Daniel Chester French. The Spencer Memorial in Atlanta and the General Oglethorpe Monument in Savannah are by him, and both have harmonious bases by Henry Bacon, architect.
Mississippi possesses an important repository of sculpture in the National Park Cemetery at Vicksburg. Among the memorials in the Park are the works of such men as Lorado Taft, Herbert Adams, A.A. Weinman, and Solon Borglum.
In New Orleans, Lousiana . . . [is] the Wounded Stag by Antoine Louis Barye, which stands in front of the Delgado Museum of Art. The center of the historic Jackson Square is accented by one of Clark Hill’s famous equestrian statues of General Jackson. Effectively place on the plaza in front of the Courthouse is the bronze figure of Chief Justice White by Bryan Baker.
[In Austin, Texas are] her monuments to General Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, and the cemetery her figure of Albert Sidney Johnston.
In the 1933 edition of the American Art Annual are listed thirty-three native Southern sculptors. The most widely known name among these is that of Augustus Lukeman, a native of Virginia. Others in the list who have achieved more than a local reputation are William Couper, Nancy Cox McCormick, Angela Gregory, Ernest Bruce Haswell, Bonnie MacLeary, Waldine Amanda Tauch, and Enid Yandell.”
(The Fine Arts, Ula Milner Gregory; Culture in the South, W.T. Couch, editor, UNC Press, 1934, excerpts, pp. 275-277)