in the Public Realm
Truth and Beauty and The Dewitt Clinton Reading Room

New York Public Library Sculptures
Thomas Tarangioli
Dewitt Clinton Periodical Reading Room
Richard Haas
Sites at this Tour Stop...



Dewitt Clinton Periodical Reading Room

About this Tour Stop...

There are two statues in classical style located in the niches of the library entitled 'Truth' and 'Beauty'. These were created by Frederick MacMonnies in 1914-1920. Truth, the partially clad male figure, sits on a sphinx-the symbol of mystery. To his right is Beauty: a nude woman seated on a Pegasus, the winged horse whose hoof touched the earth and created the sacred wellspring. Above on the pediment are a collection of sculptures by George Gray Barnard entitled 'Arts and History' . History is an allegory suggesting that the past events underlie life's present course. Michelle Cohen in her book 'Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture' also speaks of a controversy over the installation of the reliefs where the sculptor fought with Donnelly & Ricci, the firm that carved the figures, that the figures were not carved correctly and not properly tilted forward. Despite Barnard's complaints, the sculptures were not replaced. Walking around to the rear of the Library, you will come across a terrace, designed by Thomas Hastings, which includes many classical ornaments: garlands, urns, and ram's heads. This is the site of the William Cullen Bryant Memorial from 1911. Bryant (1794-1878) was a newspaper editor, one of America's most popular poets, and a civic improver who led the campaign to create Central Park. Herbert Adams, one of the best 'New York sculptors of his period, created the bronze figure of Bryant. The memorial was dedicated in 1911, at the completion of the Library.' And if you get a chance to go into the Library, be sure to check out the Richard Haas 2003 mural in the Dewitt Clinton Reading Room and the Edward Laning 1940 mural entitled 'The History of the Recorded Word."