Piccirilli Brothers

The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of renowned marble carvers who carved a large number of the most significant marble sculptures in the United States, including Daniel Chester French’s colossal Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

History

In 1888, Giuseppe Piccirilli (1844-1910), a well-known stone carver, brought his family to New York from Massa di Carrara, in Tuscany, Italy. The entire family, father and six sons -- Feirrucio (1864- ), Attilio Piccirilli (1866-1945), Furio (1868-1949), Masaniello (1870-1951), Orazio (1872-1954) and Getulio (1874-1956) -- were trained as marble cutters and carvers.

Although the Piccirilli Brothers were known primarily as architectural modelers and the carvers of other sculptors’ works, both Attilio and Furio developed names for themselves as sculptors independent of the family.

The family lived at 467 East 142nd Street in the Bronx and set up their workshop next to their home. Over the years their atelier grew until it eventually had encompassed the whole block.

At that time most prominent sculptors would create their original work in clay. From that clay model a caster would generate a plaster model. The model would then be sent to the Piccirilli Brothers who would carve it from stone, typically marble, although limestone and granite where also used. The brothers became the carvers of choice for a large number of American sculptures of the time including Daniel Chester French and Paul Wayland Bartlett.

Besides their work as carvers the Piccirilli Brothers also modeled vast amounts of architectural detailing and embellishments for a large number of public and private buildings.

One of the great loses in American art history occurred when the Piccirilli Brothers studio quietly closed it doors and no move was made to secure their records, so the accounts of much of what they had accomplished was lost.

Original Sculpture by the Piccirilli Brothers

* "USS Maine" Monument, H. Van Buren Magonigle, architect, [Atillio Piccirilli, sculptor] 1913; Columbus Circle, New York City.
* Firemen's Memorial, H. Van Buren Magonigle, architect, [Atillio Piccirilli, sculptor] figures of "Courage" and "Duty" 1913: Riverside Park at 100th Street, New York City
* Much of the stonework on the California State Building and the attached buildings at the Panama-California Exposition (1915).
* Manitoba Legislative Building [1919] , Simon and Boddington, architects, figures of Sieur de la Verendrye and Lord Selkirk, plus many architectural figures and details, Winnipeg, Manitoba
* Riverside Church, Riverside Drive, NYC 1931

elected Works Carved for Other Sculptors

* U.S. Custom House, [1907] , Cass Gilbert, architect, The "Four Continents", Daniel Chester French; and twelve allegorical statues on the cornice by Charles Grafly, Frederick Ruckstull, Augustus Lukeman, and others, at Bowling Green, NYC;

* N.Y. Stock Exchange pediment [1903] , John Quincy Adams Ward and Paul Bartlett, sculptors, George B. Post , architect, Wall Street, NYC.

* "Apotheosis of Democracy" [1919] for the pediment of the House wing of the U.S. Capitol Building, Paul Bartlett, sculptor, [Thomas Walter, architect] Washington D.C.

* Pediment and thirty large allegorical figures for the cornice of the Brooklyn Museum, [1913] , Daniel Chester French, Adolph Alexander Weinman, Augustus Lukeman, Karl Bitter, Charles Keck, Janet Scudder, Herbert Adams, Carl Heber and others, sculptors, McKim, Mead, and White, architects, Brooklyn, NY.

* The New York Public Library, [1916] Carrère and Hastings, architects, where they executed two pediments by George Grey Barnard, six eleven-foot tall cornice figures including "Poetry", "Drama", and "History", by Paul Wayland Bartlett and the two lions by Edward Clark Potter, which have come to represent the NY Library .

* Washington Arch, Stanford White, architect, [1918] figures by Frederick MacMonnies, Hermon MacNeil, and Alexander Stirling Calder, Washington Square, NYC

* Civic Virtue Fountain, 1922. by Frederick MacMonnies, originally created for City Hall Park, has been, since 1941 located at Queens Borough Hall.

* "Past, Guardians of the Portals" and "Future", for Robert Aitken at the National Archives Building, Washington D.C.

References

Baker, Marilyn, "Manitoba’s Third Legislative Building: Symbols in Stone: The At and Politics of a Public Building", Hyperion Press Limited, Winnipeg, Manitoba 1986

Balfour, Alan, "Rockefeller Center – Architecture As Theater", McGraw-Hill Book Company, NY, NY 1978

Bogart, Michele H., "Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City: 1890-1930", University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1989

"Contemporary American Sculpture Issued for the Exhibition held by the National Sculpture Society in Cooperation with the Trustees of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, MCMXXIX", National Sculpture Society, NY 1929

Gardner, Albert TenEyck, "American Sculpture: A catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art", The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1965

Kvaran & Lockley, "Guide to Architectural Sculpture in America", unpublished manuscript

Lombardo, Josef Vincent, "Atilio Piccirilli: Life of an American Sculptor", Pitman Publishing Corporation, New York 1944

Reynolds, Donald Martin, "Monuments and Masterpieces; Histories and views of Public Sculpture in New York City", Macmillan Publishing Company, New York 1988

Somma, Thomas P. "The Apotheosis of Democracy, 1908-1916:The Pediment for the House Wing of the United States Capitol", University of Delaware Press, Newark 1995

The Riverside Church in the City of New York: A Handbook of the Institution and Its Buildings, The Rivrsude Church, New York 1931

[http://ontologicalmuseum.org/museum/exquisite-family/Piccirilli-Brothers-001.html Piccirilli Brothers] :the article by Wickham Boyle here contains at least some misinformation [see Discussion] .

[http://www2.riverdale.edu/~bcarroll Piccirilli Brothers] :this website contains information about the Brothers' works throughout New York City and the nation.


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