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Karl Bitter

 (1867 - 1915)
Karl Theodore Francis Bitter was active/lived in New York, New Jersey / Austria, Germany.  Karl Bitter is known for sculpture-mansion decoration, public works.

Karl Bitter

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Karl Bitter
Sculptor and architectural designer Karl Theodore Francis Bitter, was born in Vienna, Austria, December 6, 1867, and became a citizen of the United States in 1889. He studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. A classically-oriented sculptor influenced by the revival of interest in the Greeks and Romans, Bitter was extremely successful in his field. He created works for banks, courthouses, office buildings, museums, a state capitol, and churches, including New York City's Trinity Church, where his bronze doors made him famous.

Bitter exhibited in the history-making Armory Show, in New York City, in 1913, but, only two years later, was struck and killed by a car on leaving the Metropolitan Opera.

In 1890-1891, Bitter assisted architect Richard Morris Hunt in the design of the August Belmont tomb, Island Cemetery, Newport, Rhode Island. Bitter was often associated with Hunt, creating a number of sculptures for his buildings, including the French Renaissance style George Washington Vanderbilt "Biltmore Estate" outside of Asheville, North Carolina. A sculpture by Bitter adorned the central fountain, as well as numerous pieces inside and on the house, including figures of St. Louis and Joan of Arc on the exterior of the stair tower.

Bitter's marble "Symbols of Government," ca. 1907, featuring the Seal of the United States surmounted by an eagle and flanked by female angels, stands on the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, in New York City.

His final work was the bronze figure of "Abundance," 1915, atop the Pulitzer fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Due to his death, Bitter was unable to complete the fountain itself. Karl Gruppe, his assistant, finished the work.

In Philadelphia, Bitter created two sculptures of Dr. William Pepper, Provost of the University of Pennsylvaniaa portrait bust and a seated statuein the Central Library of the Free Library. Also in Philadelphia, his "Spirit of Transportation," a very large high-relief work with multiple figures and horses, was sculpted in 1895 for the Broad Street Station, and moved in 1933 to the 30th Street Station when Broad Street was demolished.

Originally sculpted for the St. Paul Building in New York City, three five-foot tall statues of kneeling men, the "Races of Mankind," were removed to Holliday Park, in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1958. They were donated by the Western Electric Company when they demolished the building. Placed in a specially designed grotto, the setting is known as "The Ruins." Bitter had already designed Indianapolis's De Pew Fountain.

Bitter created a monumental sculpture of a "Standard-Bearer" on a rearing horse, from which casts were made and placed atop four towering pylons, marking the entrance to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, in 1901. Bitter was sculpture director for this Exposition, as well as for Expositions in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904, and San Francisco, California, in 1915. However, he was killed in an automobile accident in April, 1915, and was succeeded by A Stirling Calder as overseer of Sculpture for the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition.

Bitter was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design, New York City, in 1902; an Academician in 1903, and he was president of the National Sculpture Society, New York City, in 1906-1907.

A book on Karl Theodore Francis Bitter, Artist's Life: Rudolf Schwarz and Karl Bitter, was written by Theodore Stempfel and Eberhard Reichmann, and published by the Max Kade German-American Center and the Indiana German Heritage Society.

Bitter is listed in Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers. He was elected an Associate of the National Academy of Design, New York City, in 1902; and Academician in 1903.


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About  Karl Bitter

Born:  1867 - Vienna, Austria
Died:   1915 - New York City
Known for:  sculpture-mansion decoration, public works