Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Grant Memorial

In Washington, D.C., on a business trip earlier in March, I explored the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at the foot of Capitol Hill. The largest equestrian statue in the United States depicts Grant mounted on his horse Cincinnati atop a 22-foot-high pedestal, gazing west toward the Washington Monument. I was more struck by the bronze artillerymen and cavalrymen to either side of Grant, at opposite ends of their shared 252-foot marble platform. The detail in Henry Merwin Shrady's sculptures is remarkable.Shrady, whose father had been one of Grant's doctors, got the commission to sculpt the memorial in 1903 and worked on it for the rest of his life. The artillerymen were finished in 1912, the cavalrymen in 1916, the figure of Grant in 1920. Shrady died just weeks before the dedication in 1922, on the centennial of Grant's birth. The Grant Memorial was dedicated only a month before the dedication of a much better-known D.C. memorial -- to Gen. Grant's commander in chief.

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