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U.S. Grant's Steely Bronze
In it the young artist acknowledges three of the most prominent sculptors of his time.
The first is Frederic Remington (1861-1909), whose bronzes for the tabletop did so much to shape our views of cowboys and the West.
In his "Coming Through the Rye," a statuette of 1902, four cowpokes on a tear gallop side by side shooting six-guns in the air. Of the sculpture's 16 hooves just five touch the ground.
Remington could model moving horses as well as anyone. But he couldn't cast them. That work he entrusted to Ricardo Bertelli, the president of the Roman Bronze Works of New York. Shrady employed the same founder. Remington called him "O man of metal." Shrady asked him to stand as his daughter's godfather.
The second and third American masters sensed in Shrady's monument are Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and Daniel Chester French (1850-1931).
The best of all of Washington's Civil War memorials is certainly French's Lincoln. A plaster of the second best -- Saint-Gaudens's Shaw Memorial -- is in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.
In 1897, when the great Shaw Memorial bronze was dedicated in Boston, Shrady, as a member of New York's 7th Regiment, was one of the soldiers who marched in the parade.
Shrady had learned from both older sculptors, and it shows.
His Grant owes much to the French's Grant in Philadelphia, and his Grant Memorial bas-reliefs (he didn't live to finish them) obviously pay homage to Saint-Gaudens's marching troops.
The two men noticed. Without their warm approval, and their official votes, Shrady would never have got the job.
He got it in competition. Twenty-three schemes were submitted to the jury. Architect Daniel H. Burnham (the designer most responsible for both the 1893 Chicago world's fair and the layout of the Mall) and sculptors Saint-Gaudens and French were three of the key jurors who saw that Shrady won.
The work drained him. The money appropriated, $250,000, had not been enough. Shrady sickened. He had "abscesses in both ears." He dismissed his servants, took his three boys out of school and turned to paper napkins where once he had used cloth.
The Grant Memorial was dedicated at last -- a month before the Lincoln -- on April 27, 1922.
Shrady wasn't there. He'd died two weeks before.