Eagles and Prey

Eagles and Prey is the first work of sculpture, not a monument, installed in Central Park. Cast in Paris in 1850, it is the oldest known work of art on City parkland, located on the western edge of the Mall.

The American millionaire Gordon W. Burnham gifted Eagles and Prey to the Park in 1863. Created in 1850 by the French artist Christophe Fratin, it depicts two eagles attacking a goat. Fratin was well known for his sculptures of animals, and his focus on anatomical details. The gruesome realism of the sculpture was popular with early Park visitors fascinated with the savagery of nature. That its pedestal was obscured by plantings added to the illusion of realism.

Two other sculptures in the Park depict animals hunting, Tigress and Cubs and Still Hunt. Although the Park’s original designers did not envision monuments and sculpture as part of the Park, this type of subject matter was seen as more fitting to its purpose as a rural retreat as they were added over time.