National Capital Parks
A History
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PARKS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL, 1933-1951 (continued)

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

One of the most prominent dedications in recent years was that of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the two hundredth anniversary of Jefferson's birth, April 13, 1943. [120] The location of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial followed the design of the McMillan Commission of 1901. Preparatory to the construction and creation of the Memorial, a Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission was authorized by act of Congress on June 26, 1934. [121] As it may be said of all major developments in the National Capital, action started with Congress. A Commission was organized, and National Capital Parks was designated to take care of the administrative and fiscal obligations of this commission.

The architect of the Jefferson Memorial was John Russell Pope, who was influenced by Jefferson's own taste in architecture. Consequently, the style followed that which Jefferson himself had used in the design of the Virginia State Capitol, his home at Monticello and the rotunda at the University of Virginia. When the Memorial was first dedicated, a full size plaster model of the Jefferson Statue was put in place on its pedestal in the Memorial. The statue was the work of the sculptor Rudolph Evans, a native of Washington. The plaster model was replaced with a permanent bronze statue in the Spring of 1947. [122]

Jose Artigas Statue

The dedication of the statue of Jose Artigas, which was erected on Constitution avenue at 18th Street, took place on June 19, 1950. This statue was presented to the United States by the people and especially the school children of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. The Uruguayan architect of the statue was Mario Paysse Reyes. The American architectural firm of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston, and Larson designed the pedestal. The movement to present the statue of General Artigas was initiated in 1940 and completed in 1942. It was an officer of the Uruguayan Army, Edgardo Ubaldo Genta, who conceived the idea of donating a bronze statue of the Uruguayan National hero to the United States in keeping with a plan to exchange bronze statues of heroes among the American republics. On October 29, 1948, the Commission of Fine Arts selected reservation 110 for the Artigas Statue. Other prominent dedications of statuary which have taken place since 1933 include the William Jennings Bryan, Navy—Marine, Artemas Ward, and the Marconi Statues.

Navy-Marine Memorial
Navy-Marine Memorial

Arlington Memorial Bridge Plaza Statuary

The most impressive dedication of 1951 was that of the Four Equestrian Statues for the Arlington Memorial Bridge Plaza. Arrangements for the casting of these statues in Italy were agreed to by National Capital Parks Associate Superintendent Harry Thompson and Italian Government officials. These four monumental equestrian statues, cast in Italy as a gift to the people of the United States from the people of Italy, were appropriately dedicated on September 26, 1951. [123] The four statues, portraying the "Arts of War" and the "Arts of Peace" and mounted on the Plaza of Arlington Memorial Bridge, complete the sculptured embellishments for the imposing Memorial Bridge. [124] Designed and modeled by American sculptors, they were cast in bronze and surfaced with pure gold by Italian artisans. Each statue has been given a symbolic name. The groups symbolizing the "Arts of Peace" sculptured by James Fraser stand at the entrance to the Rock Creek Parkway. On the east is "Music and Harvest;" on the west of the entrance is "Aspiration and Literature." The two statues symbolizing the "Arts of War" sculptured by Leo Friedlander stand at the entrance to the Arlington Memorial Bridge. On the east is "Valor," while on the west side is "Sacrifice." The inscriptions carved into the mounting piers of all the groups serve as a permanent record of the origin of the statues and their completion. [125]

Arlington Memorial Bridge Plaza Statuary
Arlington Memorial Bridge Plaza Statuary

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Last Updated: 31-Jul-2003