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 Henry Merwin Shrady  (1871 - 1922)

About: Henry Merwin Shrady
 

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: wildlife, monument and Indian figure sculpture

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BIOGRAPHY for Henry Shrady
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Birth
1871 (New York City)
 
Death
1922 (New York City)

Lived/Active
New York

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wildlife, monument and Indian figure sculpture

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Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Henry Merwin Shrady (1871-1922)

It has been said that Henry Merwin Shrady created some of the finest bronze wildlife and Indian sculptures of the American West.  Shrady also attained considerable notoriety for his masterwork, Appomattox Memorial Monument to General Ulysses S. Grant in Washington, D.C., which he devoted twenty-two years to producing. 

Henry Shady was born in New York City, the son of a surgeon.  He had no formal art instruction; rather he studied law at Columbia University.  Shrady was prevented by illness from practicing the law he studied at Columbia, and entered the match business in 1900, failing miserably.  The same year, at twenty-nine, he began sketching and painting.  Shrady enjoyed drawing.  On his way home from work he would often stop at a pet shop to sketch the animals displayed in the window.  He had also studied biology and animal anatomy while at Columbia which aided him artistically.  The young artist also spent weekends at the Bronx Zoo making sketches and studies of animals.

Shrady’s first model was a group entitled Artillery Going Into Action. This complex group consisted of six horses and riders drawing a cannon.  Shrady used his own saddle horse as his model.  Alan Southworth, a family friend, photographed Shrady’s model and had it published as an engraving.  A representative of Gorham Silver Company saw the engraving and suggested Shrady pursue a career in sculpture.  The company then offered to have Shrady’s model cast.

In 1902 Shrady was awarded the $250,000 commission for his life work, the Grand Memorial.  Shrady also created a bronze of a grazing cavalry named The Empty Saddle.  A committee member sponsoring a competition for an equestrian statue of Washington at Valley Forge saw The Empty Saddle and invited Shrady to enter the contest.  Shrady submitted two plaster models, winning the contest.  His completed statue was placed on the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn.  Despite the artist’s notoriety for his monumental sculptures of heroes and public figures, his early bronzes are of special interest today.  These works were highly realistic, with skillfully modeled details. 

Henry Shrady died April 22, 1922, in New York City.

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
HENRY MERWIN SHRADY (1871-1922)

Born in New York City, Henry Shrady is acclaimed for creating important Civil War memorials, as well as bronze sculptures of western wildlife and Native Americans. The son of a prominent physician, Shrady studied law at Columbia University, but illness prevented him from entering practice. He originally pursued painting and drawing as a hobby, sketching animals at the city's zoos and pet shops.

His first attempt at sculpture, Artillery Going Into Action, was a complex model of six horses and riders pulling a caisson and cannon. Upon seeing a sketch of this work, an employee of the Gorham Company encouraged the young artist to pursue a career in sculpture. As a result, Shrady's earliest sculptural works, Bull Moose and Elk Buffalo (also know as), were cast in bronze by Gorham and sold by the Theodore B. Starr Company. These sculptures were seen by the famous American sculptor Karl Bitter, who offered Shrady studio space and persuaded him to enter important competitions, including the 1901 Pan American Exhibit in Buffalo, New York.

In 1902, Shrady, a relative unknown, received the $250,000 commission for what would become his life work. Over fifty well known American artists vied for the honor of creating the Appomattox Memorial to General Ulysses S. Grant in Washington D.C. This massive work depicting a calvary charge on a marble platform took Shrady more than twenty years to complete.

Shrady's second key commission was for the creation of an equestrian statue of General Robert E. Lee on his mount, Traveler. This example is one of three bronze models cast by the Roman Bronze Works foundry of New York City for the artist prior to casting the monument. Shrady presented one of these models to the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, while the other is in the permanent collection of the R. W. Norton Gallery of Art in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Sadly, Shrady did not live to see the completion of either of his large commissions, dying in New York City while both were being cast.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers VI:
A sculptor known for his monuments, including buffalos and Indians, Henry Shrady was born and died in New York City. The son of a surgeon, he originally planned to practice law, but was prevented by illness, although he studied at Columbia until 1895.

Leaving Columbia, Shrady entered a match business, which failed in 1900.  That same year, at 29, he began sketching and painting.  At that time self-taught, his first painting was exhibited by the National Academy of Design and sold.  Shrady spent time at the zoo, observing and sketching the animals. It was there that the sculptor Carl Bitter noticed the young artist working, and offered him studio space.

Shrady learned to sculpt from Bitter, and his small animal bronzes sold commercially, bringing him the attention of the public.  Those small bronzes also led him to be commissioned the following year, 1901, to sculpt an equestrian statue of George Washington for the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City.  That same year, two of his bronzes, a moose and a buffalo, were exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition, and he also sculpted a panel of Indians for a monument.

In 1902, Shrady was awarded the $250,000 commission for what became his life work, the Grant Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Shrady spent the last twenty years of his life modeling this cavalry charge on a 252-foot marble platform.  This commission came to the artist just two years after he began his artistic career, and “It is believed that the Grant Monument commission was awarded to the unknown Shrady amid much politicking to prevent Niehaus from getting it.”

Shrady’s successful career as an artist, though he was largely untrained, was attributed to his background: “As the son of a surgeon, he easily assimilated the truth of anatomy.” Rilla Evelyn Jackman, American Arts.

Source: The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, by Peggy and Harold Samuels

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