William Tecumseh Sherman Conservation

The Conservancy performed a comprehensive conservation treatment on the monument of General William Tecumseh Sherman at the northern end of Grand Army Plaza.

The General William Tecumseh Sherman monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens depicts the goddess Victory leading General Sherman on his horse, Ontario. It is made of bronze and covered with gold leaf. A pink granite base designed by Charles Follen McKim, of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, supports the monument. The monument is widely regarded as one of Saint-Gaudens’s greatest public works, and one of the most important equestrian statues in the country.

Saint-Gaudens received the commission for Sherman in 1892, from the New York Chamber of Commerce. He worked on the monument over the course of 10 years at his studios in New York, Paris, and Cornish, New Hampshire. The monument was dedicated on May 30, 1903.

Sherman is one of two sculptures intended for the outdoors that Saint-Gaudens coated with gold, an unusual treatment for a public monument. In explaining this decision, he stated that he was “sick of seeing statues look like stovepipes,” a reference to his aversion to the discoloration of bronze as it aged in the urban environment.

As part of the reconstruction of Grand Army Plaza, the Conservancy organized a comprehensive conservation treatment on the monument. The purpose of this project was to address the deteriorated condition of the monument with improvements that reflected the artist’s intent. The project included regilding the monument and applying a new protective coating, as well as repairs to the monument’s base. The complete reconstruction of Grand Army Plaza aimed to improve the condition and experience of one of the city’s most prominent public spaces.

The top of the sculpture is seen from within its surrounding scaffolding, being worked on by two artisans.

Statue during conservation

William Tecumseh Sherman, Before and After Conservation

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