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 William Rudolph O'Donovan  (1844 - 1920)

About: William Rudolph O'Donovan


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Lived/Active: New York/West Virginia      Known for: portrait bust and bas-relief sculpture, some landscape painting

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Ad Code: 3
William Rudolph O'Donovan
from Auction House Records.
Bronze bas-relief plaques of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Rudolf O'Donovan was an American sculptor, primarily known for portrait busts and bas reliefs of prominent persons including George Washington, a frequent and favorite subject, about whom he published a series of papers on Washington portraits. He lived most of his career in New York City. Between 1871 and 1895, he received many of his commissions through Maurice Power, owner of the National Fine Art Foundry and powerfully connected to the Democratic Party. 

O'Donovan was born in Preston County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and taught himself to sculpt. After the Civil War, in which he served in the Confederate army, he opened a studio in the Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City and became well known as a sculptor, especially of memorial pieces and monuments such as a commemoration of John Paulding, Revolutionary War hero.  He also collaborated with Thomas Eakins on equestrian portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1878 he become an associate of the National Academy of Design* and exhibited regularly there beginning 1874 with a bust of Peter Gilsey.  He exhibited at the newly organized Society of American Artists. 

O'Donovan did some art criticism for the New York Herald and Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. and also did occasional landscape painting, although examples are rare. 

Selected works
    •    Relief portrait of Bayard Taylor (ca. 1870), Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
    •    John Paulding (1880), Captors' Monument, Patriot's Park, Tarrytown, New York.
    •    Cavalry Officer; Sailor (1880–81), Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Lawrence, Massachusetts.
    •    Bas-relief* panels of Herkimer Directing the Oriskany Battle and Combat (1882–84), Oriskany Battlefield Monument, Oriskany, New York.
    •    George Washington (1883), Plaza Washington, El Paraiso, Caracas, Venezuela.
    •    Colonel Daniel Morgan (1885–86), Saratoga Battle Monument, Saratoga National Historical Park, Victory Mills, New York.
    •    Tower of Victory, Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site, Newburgh, New York.
    •     George Washington (1886–87).
    •     Architectural sculptures of Rifleman; Artilleryman; Light Dragoon; Infantry Line Officer (1888).
    •    Irish Brigade Monument (1888), Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A granite Celtic Cross guarded by a life-size bronze statue of an Irish wolfhound.
    •   Bust of Walt Whitman (1891), unlocated.
    •   Archbishop Hughes (1891), Fordham University, Fordham, New York.
    •   Trenton Battle Monument, Trenton, New Jersey.
    •   Colossal Statue of George Washington (1891–93).
    •   Private John Russell and Private Blair McClenachan (1891-93), two statues of 14th Regiment Massachusetts soldiers flanking the monument's entrance.
    •  Thomas Eakins modeled two bas-relief panels for the monument's base; Charles Henry Niehaus modeled the third panel.
    •   Bas-relief panels of President Lincoln and General Grant (1893–94), Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York. O'Donovan modeled the men; Thomas Eakins modeled the horses.


"William Rudolf O'Donovan",

Thayer Tolles, "William Rudolf O'Donovan", American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume I, p. 200

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