(1888 - 1966)
Frank Vittor was active/lived in Pennsylvania, New York. Frank Vittor is known for portrait and commemorative public sculpture, coin design.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Frank Vittor (January, 6, 1888 - January 24, 1968) was an Italian
immigrant to the United States who became famous as a sculptor.
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Vittor was born in Mozzato, Como, a suburb of Milan, Italy. He
studied art in Milan at the Academy of Beres and then traveled to
Paris, France to study under Auguste Rodin. When Vittor was 18, in
1906, U.S. architect Stanford White brought Vittor to New York to work
on his staff. White, who had designed Madison Square Garden II,
was murdered at a performance at The Garden two weeks after Vittor
arrived. The youth, having little money and knowing very limited
English, decided to stay in America and soon opened an art
studio. He met his future wife, Ade Mae Humphreys, a resident of
Pittsburgh, and made the move to her home town.
Aviator Charles Lindbergh's first solo trans-Atlantic 3,600-mile (5,800
km) flight between Long Island, New York and Paris, France was
immortalized in bronze by Vittor with a 50-foot-tall (15 m) sculpture
showing a winged youth spanning the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel
Tower. Congress approved the expenditure in 1928, and the work was
completed in 1929.
Perhaps no work by Vittor created as much controversy and media
coverage as did his nude statue of Henrietta Leaver, Miss America
1935. Though Leaver posed for Vittor, she did so in a bathing
suit, accompanied by her grandmother. Upon first viewing the
lifesize 5-foot 5-inch plaster statue Leaver was shocked that it was a
nude and demanded her representation be draped or veiled. Vittor did
not agree and called in art experts to judge the work and all agreed it
should stay as it had been created. Leaver did not back down and
demanded people her own age review The American Venus, as it
had originally been called. Unfortunately for Leaver her 60 peers, many
of whom were art students, agreed it should remain unveiled. Though the
strong disagreement between the two eventually did subside, Leaver,
Vittor and the statue resurfaced five decades later in recaps of
controversial Miss America mishaps.
Baseball player Honus Wagner, one of the first five players inducted
into the Hall of Fame, was memorialized by Vittor in a 17-foot-tall
(5.2 m) bronze statue, originally on display near the Pittsburgh
Pirates Forbes Field. It was moved to Three Rivers Stadium and, when
that stadium was imploded in 1971, the statue was relocated to PNC
In 1958, one of Vittor's greatest works, a 50-foot-tall (15 m) granite
base and bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, was unveiled in
Pittsburgh's Schenley Park. Shortly after the statue was placed, the
bronze plaque at the base was stolen by vandals. The Sons of
Columbus USA desire to replace the plaque with the original wording;
however, there exists no record of what Vittor had written regarding
Charles Lindbergh was the recipient of a second work of art created by
Vittor. The artist and sculptor designed a commemorative stamp
picturing the pilot and his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis.
Walter F. Brown, the U.S. Postmaster General, authorized a 175th
anniversary commemorative "Battle of Braddock" 2-cent stamp to be
designed by Vittor. The artwork he created featured a likeness of
Colonel George Washington with the inscription "Battle of Braddock's
In 1936 the U.S. Congress authorized minting a half-dollar coin to
commemorate the 75th anniversary of the American Civil War. Vittor was
the person selected to design the coin. The obverse depicts the profile
of two soldiers, one from the North and one from the South and the
reverse holds a symbol of the battle placed between the combatant's
shields. The coins were distributed through the Pennsylvania State
Commission for Gettysburg.
Throughout Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities there exist more
than 50 statues and fountains, as well as numerous other works,
including a dozen historical panels on county bridges, and World War I
memorials in at least five different cities. The artist sculpted
numerous busts, including United States presidents Calvin Coolidge,
Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Vittor also
created a 10-foot (3.0 m) bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, which is
located at Jefferson Memorial Park.
For several years Vittor was an instructor of art and sculpture at the
Carnegie Institute and the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The artist
founded the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, and he also sat on the
city's planning commission. During Columbus Day celebrations held in
1988, Vittor was honored with a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker,
which stands near his work of Columbus.
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