Henry Shrady spent the last 20 years of his life designing the memorial to Ulysses S. Grant that became the largest bronze statue cast in America at the time. It was dedicated in April of 1922, 100 years after Grant was born and two weeks after Shrady died of overwork.
If Shrady were alive today, chances are good that -- given the choice -- he'd drive a Subaru rather than a Volkswagen. That's because unlike Subaru, when Volkswagen decided to produce a magazine ad in front of the Capitol, where the Grant statue stands so boldy, Shrady's work was air-brushed out of the picture.
"Because of the statue's perspective," said John Eding, art director of Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency, "only a small piece of it was sticking above the car. It looked confusing, so we took it out."
That decision was noticed by a Capitol Hill staffer and sculpture aficionado, Ken Bresler, who called Volkswagen to find out what happened to Grant's statue.
The car maker's in-house advertising department at first denied any fancy retouching had occurred. One employe told Bresler the Subaru and Volkswagen ads were photographed at opposite sides of the Capitol, thereby inventing a non-existent East Front reflecting pool for the foreground of the VW ad. And a second staffer referred to the Capitol as the White House.
Not until Bresler reached the agency that designed the ad, Doyle Dane Bernbach, did he find someone to admit that the 5-ton, 40-foot statue had been airbrushed from the photo. Sorry, General, but that's show biz on Madison Avenue.