Description

Located at the southeast corner of Madison Square Park this forthright, bronze full-standing statue of political figure Roscoe Conkling (1829-1888) is by the distinguished artist John Quincy Adams Ward (1840-1910), and dates to 1893. On March 12, 1888, while on his way to the New York Club at 25th Street, Conkling suffered severe exposure in Union Square, during the famous blizzard which gripped the city on that day. As a result his health rapidly declined, and he died on April 18th, 1888. Five years later friends of Conkling petitioned the Mayor and Park Board to erect a sculpture of him in Union Square. Park officials believed Conkling not of a stature to warrant placement of this work alongside existing sculptures in the park of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and the Marquis de Lafayette, but granted permission at the present location of the work. Later referred to as “the Dean of American Sculptors,” Ward contributed nine sculptures to the parks of New York, among them Horace Greeley (1890) now in City Hall Park, Alexander Holley (1888) in Washington Square Park, William Earl Dodge (1885), now in Bryant Park, Henry Ward Beecher (1891) in Columbus Park, Brooklyn, and The Indian Hunter (1869), William Shakespeare (1872), The Pilgrim (1885), and the Seventh Regiment Memorial (1874) in Central Park. Ward`s depiction of Conkling is a sensitive and vigorous portrait of him posed, as Conkling`s wife requested, while delivering a speech before the United States Senate. In early December 1893, the eight-foot high, 1,200 pound statue was hoisted onto its granite pedestal, and installed—in deference to the Conkling`s heirs—and installed without any formal ceremony. In the summer of 2000 as part of the redesign and renovation of Madison Square Park the sculpture was relocated 20 feet to a landscaped area, and in 2001 the sculpture was conserved by the Citywide Monuments Conservation Program.

Constructed, 1893

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