• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2003

    Important American Paintings, Drawings And Sculpture

    21 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 87

    Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937)

    'Nathan Hale'

    Price Realised  

    Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937)
    'Nathan Hale'
    inscribed 'F. MacMonnies 1890' (along the base)--stamped 'E. Gruet/Foundeur' (on the base)
    bronze with brown patina
    28¼ in. (71.8 cm.) high


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    Nathan Hale was a captain during the American Revolution who was executed by the British in New York in 1776. His now famous, final words were, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." In 1889, Frederick W. MacMonnies was invited by the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution to compete for a statue commission of Nathan Hale to be placed in City Hall Park, Manhattan, New York. He was to submit a three foot plaster model adhering to the following guidelines, "a well-built young man of American type, dressed in simple costume of the end of the last Century...at the moment immediately preceding his execution by the British." (M. Smart, A Flight with Fame: The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies, Madison, Connecticut, 1996, p. 86) As no portrait of Hale is known to exist, MacMonnies was left to create devices to render an image of the national hero. He chose to present him as an idealized, defiant figure. MacMonnies won the competition and produced an approximately 8 feet tall bronze. The present work is one of several reduced size models that MacMonnies produced.

    Provenance

    Private collection, New Rochelle, New York.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.


    Literature

    L. Taft, The History of American Sculpture, New York, 1903, pp. 336, 339, pl. X, another example illustrated.
    W. Craven, Sculpture in America, New York, 1968, p. 456, another example illustrated.
    F. Fried, New York Civic Sculpture: A Pictorial Guide, New York, 1976, p. 13, another example illustrated.
    J. Conner and J. Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893-1939, Austin, Texas, 1989, pp. 126, 128-29, another example illustrated.
    M. Smart and E.A. Gordon, Ph.D., A Flight with Fame: The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937) with a Catalogue Raisonné of the Artist's Works, Madison, Connecticut, 1996, pp. 64, 85-89, 91, 99, 102-05, 116, 136-37, 157, 188, 201, 210, 256, 270, other examples illustrated.
    T. Tolles, ed., American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born before 1865, vol. I, New York, 1999, pp. 434-36, another example illustrated.