Recently found in a Westchester NY Estate is The National Academy prize winning plaster “Black Eagle” plus photo documentation. This model is an important piece of history and was unknown until its recent rediscovery. One of the great losses in American art history occurred when the Piccirilli Brothers studio quietly closed it doors and no move was made to secure their records, so the accounts of much of what they had accomplished was lost.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of renowned marble carvers and sculptors who carved a large number of the most significant marble sculptures in the United States, including Daniel Chester French’s colossal Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., the famous pair of lions at the entrance to the New York Public Library and the USS Main National Monument at Columbus Circle.
At that time most prominent sculptors would create their original work in clay. From that clay model a caster would generate a plaster model. The model would then be sent to the Piccirilli Brothers who would carve it from stone, typically marble, although limestone and granite were also used. In this case the Black Eagle was the original work of Horatio Piccirilli (1872–1954) not an outside artist.
In 1888, Giuseppe Piccirilli (1844–1910), a well-known stone carver and a veteran of Garibaldi’s Unification war, brought his family to New York from Massa di Carrara, in Tuscany, Italy. The entire family, father and six sons—Ferruccio (1864– ), Attilio (1866–1945), Furio (1868–1949), Masaniello (1870–1951), Orazio (Horatio) (1872–1954) and Getulio (1874–1956)—were trained as marble cutters and carvers.
Although the Piccirilli Brothers were known primarily as architectural modelers and the carvers of other sculptors’ works, Attilio and Furio would further distinguish themselves as sculptors in their own right.
The family lived in a brownstone on 142nd Street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and set up a workshop next to their home that would eventually occupy an entire city block… SOLD