20 Reasons To Love Americana, Day 5

 Today’s blog showcasing standout examples of Americana that will be offered at the Winter Antiques Show January 19–29 at New York City’s Park Avenue Armory heads to the frontier to explore Western American themes in art.

Specializing in art of the American West for more than 30 years, Gerald Peters and his eponymously titled gallery will exhibit a number of fine bronzes exploring such iconic Western subjects as cowboys, horses, buffalos and Native Americans.

This bronze by Henry Merwin Shrady (American, 1871–1922) is titled “The Empty Saddle,” and is dated 1900. Made at the Roman Bronze Works foundry, which was noted as the first American foundry to use the lost wax casting method, this expressive work measures 11 by 12 by 6 inches.

“The Empty Saddle’ is a beautifully cast work by one of America’s best figurative sculptors. The subject is very disquieting — suggesting that the rider is dead,” says Alice Levi Duncan, director of Gerald Peters Gallery of New York. “It is a poetic image of the West, with the sense that the Western Expansion, the usefulness of the horse, etc, are diminished.”

Shrady is renowned for his vibrant and naturalistic wildlife sculptures examples, many of which are in key museum collections throughout the country. A New Yorker by birth, Shrady was a law student at Columbia University who sketched as a hobby. His knowledge of animal anatomy came from biology classes he took at Columbia. He often spent time at the Bronx Zoo, sketching the animals there and later using these drawings to create sculptures such as “Elk Buffalo” and “Bull Moose,” which were shown to great acclaim at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y.

“The Empty Saddle” has a special place in the annals of art history as it was this work that secured Shrady his first of many public sculpture commissions. Shrady showed this work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art’s annual exhibition in 1902 to rave reviews and was thus invited to compete for the commission of an equestrian statue of George Washington. His proposal was selected and his sculpture, “George Washington at Valley Forge,” is to this day installed at the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, N.Y.

For more information, www.gpgallery.com or 212-628-9760. Make sure to visit the dealer’s booth at the Winter Antiques Show to see this bronze and other fine Western artworks. For show information, www.winterantiquesshow.com or 212-987-0446.

—Andrea Valluzzo


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