Related: United States Art Biographies
family of Italian-American marble cutters and sculptors. In 1888, the
father and six sons, all sculptors, migrated from Italy and established
a highly successful workshop in New York City. Specializing in cutting
large works in stone from smaller models, they enlarged and cut figures
for such leading American sculptors as MacMonnies, Saint-Gaudens, and
D. C. French. French's figure of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial,
Washington, D.C., is the most notable of these.
Of the sons, Attilio and Furio achieved individual fame as sculptors.
Attilio Piccirilli, 1866-1945, executed
allegorical figures for the Maine monument in Columbus Circle, New York
City, and for the north pediment of the Wisconsin state capitol
building, Madison. Other works include numerous fauns and nymphs.
Furio Piccirilli, 1868-1949, is best known for his groups for the Court
of the Seasons for the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition, and for
his execution of the entire sculptural decoration of the house of the
provincial legislature in Winnipeg, Man., Canada.
Bibliography: See biography of A. Piccirilli by J. V.
The Piccirilli Brothers were renowned marble carvers of a large number
of the most significant marble sculptures in the United States,
including Daniel Chester Frenchâ€™s colossal Lincoln in the
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
In 1888 Guiseppe Piccirilli (1844-1910), a well-known stone carver,
brought his family to New York from Massa Carrara, in Tuscany, Italy.
The entire family, father and six sons -- Attilio (1866-1945), Furio,
Feirrucio, Getulio (Giulio), Masaniello, and Orazio -- were trained as
marble cutters and carvers.
Attilio and Furio would further distinguish themselves as sculptors in
their own right. They lived in a brownstone on 142nd Street in the
Mott Haven section of the Bronx and set up an atelier next to their
home that would eventually occupy an entire city block.
A selection of their commissions includes: The Four Continents by D.C.
French, and twelve allegorical statues on the cornice of the U.S.
Custom House at Bowling Green; the N.Y. Stock Exchange Pediment by
J.Q.A. Ward; the Senate Pediment of the U.S. Capital Building; tympana
bas-reliefs at the Frick Mansion, (both sculpted by Attilio); thirty
large allegorical figures for the cornice of the Brooklyn Muscum, the
Indian Literature and Indian Law Giver by Attilio; the Civic Virtue
Statue-Fountain by Frederick MacMonnies now at Queens Borough Hall; the
Maine Monument, Central Park and Firemenâ€™s Monument, Riverside
Park, both sculpted by Attilio, and The Joy of Life and Youth Leading
Industry (cast in Pyrex Glass), Palazzo dâ€™Italia, both at
Rockefeller Center, by Attilio; and the carving of the pediments (2),
attic sculptures (6), and Lions at The New York Public Library.
Teacher honors forgotten sculptors
By Lawrence Ferchaw
April 23, 2001
PHOTO: Lawrence Ferchaw
This sculpture at the Fireman's Memorial on West 100th Street and
Riverside Drive is one of many public sculptures carved by members of
the Piccirilli family, whose studio was located on 142nd Street in
Bill Carroll is upset that until four years ago he never knew the
statue inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was carved
just blocks away from the Mott Haven apartment where he grew up. So
he's spent the last four years trying to make sure everyone else knows.
This month he saw his work pay off with the dedication of a plaque
commemorating the sculptors at Brook Park.
Carroll, 64, has dug through files and photos seeking any information
on the largely unknown story of the Piccirillis, six Italian immigrant
brothers who carved some of the most famous public sculptures of the
early 20th century, all at their studio on 142nd Street near Brook
"It's been busy," said Carroll, a math teacher at the Riverdale
Country School. "But I love it. It's truly a labor of love."
Carroll's work led the Parks Department to put up a plaque at Brook
Park, a gated lot one block south of where the studio was located.
Carroll said he would like to see the park, recently transformed from
an abandoned lot, named for Attilio, Furio, Ferrucio, Getulio,
Masaniello and Orazio Piccirilli.
The park is currently named for a stream that ran from the North Bronx
into Bronx Kill. Changing its name would require research into the
brothers' accomplishments and a determination of whether their
contributions warranted the honor, said a Parks Department
spokeswoman, Amy Chiu.
The Piccirillis carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln in
Washington from 28 blocks of marble in 1919 from a Daniel Chester
French sculpture. They also carved the pediment at the New York Stock
Exchange, the two lions outside the main branch of the New York Public
Library, the Maine Memorial at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central
Park and the Firemen's Memorial on West 100th Street.
The number of known public sculptures by the brothers in the borough
is limited. Three are at Woodlawn Cemetery, where one marks the grave
of Fiorello LaGuardia's first wife.
The brothers emigrated with their parents in 1887 and opened their
studio in 1893. They died during the '40s and '50s.
Jerry Capa, 76, studied with the Piccirillis at their studio on 142nd
Street as a teenager from Belmont. He recalled that when Attilio was
interviewed for a biography in the early 1940s, the sculptor said with
embarrassment, "What nonsense to think that someone would want to know
about me after I'm gone."
And until Carroll started researching, writing and lecturing about the
sculptors, they had pretty much faded into obscurity, Capa said. "When
Bill came out of the blue, I said it was some kind of miracle that
someone is interested in their story," he said.
Carroll said several schools in the area have expressed interest in
incorporating the Piccirilli brothers into their Bronx Studies
curriculum. Walking around the neighborhood where he grew up, Carroll
noted how it improved in recent years.
"The Piccirilli story," he said, "would fit in this renaissance."
Carroll will give a slide lecture on the Piccirilli brothers at Lehman
College's Carman Hall at 11 a.m. on Friday. The Belmont branch of the
library currently has an exhibit on the sculptors.
Overarching ambition and the Piccirilli brothers
By Wickham Boyle
Imagine an immigrantâ€™s dream job, the too-good-to-be-true,
movie-type job, landed the minute they arrive on our purportedly,
My grandfatherâ€™s older brothers got just such a job. They were
family, 11 children, all from Tuscany in Italy. My grandfather was the
baby brother in a family where all the other men were skilled
stonecutters. When the Piccirillis immigrated to America their first
job, the dream job, was carving the statue of Lincoln for the great
sculptor Daniel Chester French. My great-uncles carved the Lincoln
Memorial, the monument to freedom and honoring a man who believed that
wars should be fought so that all humans could be treated as equals.
I donâ€™t know why, but this fact touches me so deeply as a
American tale. You arrive, your skills are valued, you find gainful
employment in a field that is somewhat respected and you thrive.
Granted when one looks into it, I see that the Piccirilli Brothers did
more and more of Daniel Chester Frenchâ€™s work including design.
are not as well known as French, but lo and behold as their careers
moved on, the Piccirilli Brothers themselves were got their own design
and carving work.
When I ride around on my bike around New York I see their work
everywhere. They carved and designed the Firefighters Memorial on
Riverside Drive. They carved Patience and Fortitude, the lions who
flank the stairway at the main branch library on Fifth Ave. The women
representing the four continents that grace the Customs Building, now
The Museum of the American Indian, those buxom beauties were carved by
The Piccirilli Brothers also carved the statue of George Washington
and many of the other pieces that are now under renovation on the arch
in Washington Sq. Park.
I didnâ€™t know enough about these men as I was growing up. Why?
come from a family where my mother was Italian and my father Irish.
These two sides fought like crazy. I am led to believe that back in
the day theirs was considered a mixed marriage, funny for us to
consider those parameters as taboo now because both sides are Catholic
cultures and the same race. But we all know that people can split
hairs and often self-worth is based on making others feel bad about
This enmity came from both sides of the family. My motherâ€™s
relatives were more recent arrivals and did speak another language.
But my fatherâ€™s family could be castigated for not having higher
education despite the fact that they had been Americans a few
generations longer than my momâ€™s folks. These silly things
rifts. The families were rarely seen together.
We did go to the massive Italian family Sunday Suppers that began
after church and ended in the dark night with course after course of
delicious food, walks with men who smoke cigars and lots of laughter.
And my grandfather, the baby with the curly hair, the Columbia masters
degree in engineering, the Navy pilot who took me for my first plane
ride in a two seater, and who was an amateur prestidigitator, making
quarters appear from behind my ears and flowers pop from inside my
book bag; my grandfather was always at the head of our table.
>From 1890 to 1945, my grandfatherâ€™s six older brothers, the
brothers, had a studio in Mott Haven, at St. Annâ€™s Ave. and E.
St. in the Bronx. They were master stone carvers whose other works
include the Maine Memorial in Central Park; the pediment of the New
York Stock Exchange; â€œCivic Virtue,â€� the scandalous
sculpture with its
hero surrounded by writhing mermaids, banished from City Hall Park to
Kew Gardens, Queens, in 1941. All but two of sculptor Daniel Chester
Frenchâ€™s works were carved by the Piccirillis.
My uncles died when I was very little. My grandfather became an
inventor. His mother thought that an education and a job where you
wore a suit and tie was a step up in America. But I relish the idea
that in my near past I have relatives who flung caution to the wind,
moved to a new continent, learned a new language and made literally a
monumental contribution to the landscape we all see and view with awe.
Exhibit and signage to commemorate renowned Mott Haven sculptors
by Andrew Ragouzeos
On July 29, the Mott Haven Public Library will be holding an exhibit
of photos depicting the life and works of the Piccirilli brothers, six
brothers from Tuscany who immigrated to the Bronx and carved some of
the nation's most famous monuments (the Lincoln Memorial, to the
Washington Square Arch, the New York Public Library lions), out of
their studio at East 142nd Street between Willis and Brooke avenues
(circa 1890-1945). - AR
>From the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Square Arch and the New
York Public Library lions, one of the best kept secrets of the Bronx
is that these marble structures of historical and artistic
significance and worldwide renown were created inside a Mott Haven art
Located at East 142nd Street between Willis and Brooke avenues (circa
1890-1945), the studio was the former home and workplace of six
immigrant siblings from Tuscany, the Piccirilli brothers (pronounced
Currently, efforts to spread the word about the brothersâ€™
contributions to the borough and American history are being planned,
including an exhibit beginning next week.
Starting July 30, the Mott Haven library will be holding an exhibit of
photographs featuring the Piccirillis and their work, which also
includes the Maine Monument near Columbus Circle and the New York
Stock Exchange pediment.
Then in August, Councilman Jose Serrano, Jr. is sponsoring the
placement of a commemorative sign at the site of the brothersâ€™
studio, demolished in 1960 and currently home to a Jehovah Witness
worship center. The two-foot by three-foot sign, which will also be
part of the Mott Haven Library exhibit, will be mounted outdoors on a
six-foot pole and feature seven photographs of the Piccirillisâ€™
along with a photo of the six brothers, and a picture of the studio.
Why the brothers - who created some of the countryâ€™s most
important sculpturesâ€" arenâ€™t more widely known is a
planned commemorative efforts are due in large part to the lobbying of
Bill Carroll, an amateur sculptor and a teacher at Riverdale Country
School who grew up in Mott Haven.
"As a kid, I had no idea that studio was there," Carroll said.
something I would have liked to have known, so when a friend told me
about the Piccirillis six years ago, I felt a real urge to bring their
story to the public. My early reaction was why is this not known? Why
is it not more celebrated?
"Itâ€™s a real mystery," Carroll continued. "One theory is that
because they were more known for carving other peopleâ€™s
they were considered craftsman, not artists. However, they did do
their own designs as well."
Of the six bothers, Furio and Attilio Piccirilli were the most active
in designing their own work, as several of their originals are in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art. The pair also served as the designers and
carvers of the Firemenâ€™s Memorial on Riverside Drive, and the
Policemenâ€™s Memorial at One Police Plaza.
Along with Attilio and Furio, the other four brothers, Gatulio,
Masaniello, Ferrucio, and Orazio, created grand marble structures
working out of the Mott Haven studio, which was a three building
complex of one living space and two brownstones, with large arched
doorways and an elevator to transport marble. They used electrical
equipment like pneumatic drills for early carving stages and then a
hammer and chisel for detail.
By all accounts, the brothers were unpretentious and easygoing, and
would frequently invite neighborhood children and fellow artists over
for tours and workshops. Attilio was also the co-founder and president
of the former Leonardo da Vinci Art School, which opened in 1923 on
the lower east side of Manhattan.
To find out more about the Piccirilli brothers, call the Mott Haven
library for exhibit hours at (718) 665-4878, or read the book Attilio
Piccirilli, Life of an American Sculptor, by Josef V. Lombardo. A date
has not yet been set for the plaque installation.
Best known for carving the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the
six Piccirilli Brothers immigrated to New York City in 1867 (just one
year after the star sculptor in the group, Attilio, was born). All six
were trained as sculptors, and worked remarkably well together in
their family studio setting. They considered the achievements of one
the achievements of all. The Lincoln Memorial and many other well
known public sculptures were actually carved in the Piccirilli
Brothers' 142nd street studio in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.
They carved numerous other artists' designs as well, including J.Q.A.
Ward, A. Saint Guadens, and R.I. Aitken.
At the pinnacle of their success in the early 20th century, the
Piccirillis were commissioned to work on such famous Manhattan
landmarks as the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the New York Stock Exchange,
the United States Custom House, the New York Public Library, and City
Hall Park. These opportunities came about largely as a result of the
national public recognition Attilio won for his work on the Maine
Monument at Columbus Circle (on the southwest side of Central Park).
By the 1930's the status of sculpture had changed, and commissions
dwindled for the brothers.
Presumably, their studio complex (142nd St. between Willis and Brook
Avenues), which had grown to four buildings during the course of their
lives and included adjacent row houses, was demolished sometime during
the 1960s. What happened to the documents and possessions contained
within still remains a mystery.
The Lincoln Memorial stands at the west end of the National Mall as a
neoclassical monument to
the 16th President. The memorial, designed by Henry Bacon, after
ancient Greek temples,
stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high. It is
surrounded by a peristyle of
38 fluted Doric columns, one for each of the thirty six states in the
Union at the time of
Lincoln's death, and two columns in-antis at the entrance behind the
colonnade. The north and
south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln's Second
Inaugural Address and his
Gettysburg Address. Lying between the north and south chambers is the
central hall containing
the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation. The statue was
carved in four years by the
Piccirilli brothers under the supervision of the sculptor, Daniel
Chester French. The statue of
Lincoln is 19 feet high and weighs 175 tons. The original plan was for
the statue to be only
ten feet high, but this was changed so that the figure of Lincoln would
not be dwarfed by the size
of the chamber. A commission to plan a monument was first proposed in
1867, shortly after
Lincoln's death. The design for that plan called for six equestrian and
31 pedestrian statues
of colossal size, with a 12-foot statue of Lincoln in the center. That
project was never started
for lack of funds. Congress approved the bill to construct this
memorial in 1910. Construction
began in 1914, and the memorial was opened to the public in 1922. The
Memorial is visited by
millions of visitors each year and is the site of many large public
protests. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream"
a crowd by
the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 . Damaged over the years by heavy
factors, the Lincoln Memorial is currently undergoing a major
The Lincoln Memorial
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO
The Lincoln Memorial,
administered by the National Park Service, is on the west end of
National Mall, located in West Potomac Park, in
line with the US Capitol and the Washington Monument, bordered by
Independence Aves. and the Reflecting Pool. The memorial is open 8:00
am to 11:45 pm
everyday except Christmas. Metro stop: Smithsonian
Monumental South Bronx
By Kiri Blakeley
Abe Lincoln might sit in Washington, D.C., but he was born in the South
Bronx. In fact, some of the most famous statues in the country,
including the Lincoln Memorial, were carved in a studio on East 142nd
Street by six Italian brothers.
Photo: Members of the South Bronx Piccirilli clan are believed to be
standing beside their masterpiece, the Lincoln Memorial, as it was
being assembled in Washington, D.C., in 1922.
PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES
Members of the South Bronx Piccirilli clan are believed to be standing
beside their masterpiece, the Lincoln Memorial, as it was being
assembled in Washington, D.C., in 1922.
The six Piccirilli brothers, sons of Giuseppe Piccirilli, a famous
sculptor in his hometown of Massa Carrara, Italy, immigrated with
their parents to New York in 1888. After
Giuseppeï¿½s wife became ill, a
doctor urged the family to relocate to the country. The "country" was
the South Bronx.
After moving into a brownstone on 142nd, the family purchased another
brownstone next door to use as a studio. The Lincoln Memorial,
designed by Daniel Chester French, was carved here in 1919. The
brothers used 28 blocks of Georgia White marble, weighing 150 tons, to
create the famous 19-foot statue visited by millions each year.
The brothers carved the statue one block at a time. The first time the
blocks were pieced together was after they reached their permanent
destination on the Washington Mall. The fit was flawless.
Without the Piccirilli brothers, New York City would look quite
different than it does today. The brothersï¿½ work
includes many of the
cityï¿½s most recognizable sculptures, including
Patience and Fortitude,
the marble lions that flank the entrance to the New York Main City
Library on 42nd Street (1911), the pediment at the top of the New York
Stock Exchange (1904), the two George Washington figures on the
Washington Arch in Greenwich Village (1918), the Maine Memorial at the
southwest entrance to Central Park (1913) and the
at Riverside Drive and West 100th Street (1913). Hundreds of other
pieces are scattered throughout museums here and in the rest of the
Yet, todayï¿½s average art student has never heard
the name Piccirilli,
said Richard Chiriani, a former art teacher at the Pratt Institute.
"That whole school of classical art has been destroyed," said
Chiriani. "No one teaches it anymore."
Mary Carroll, an English teacher at Lehman College who, along with her
husband, Bill, has spent two years fighting to revive the memory of
the Piccirilli brothers, agrees.
"Many of the designers of these sculptures did not want the public to
know that they didn't do their own carving, so there was never a
public acknowledgment of the contribution of the Piccirillis," she said.
But at a recent Lehman College retrospective of the
students learning for the first time of the Piccirillis said it was
important for the legacy of the brothers to be taught.
"Itï¿½s hard to believe that art like this came out
of the Bronx," said
student Mayra Figueroa. "People should know about it."
If Bill Carroll, an amateur sculptor and teacher at Riverdale Country
School, has his way, people will know. Carroll grew up a few blocks
from where the Piccirilli studio once stood. Urban decay has since
claimed it, leaving behind only a vacant weedy lot. Carroll has
contacted borough officials about commemorating the studio site with a
park. He says heï¿½s gotten positive responses
regarding a memorial
plaque, but a lukewarm reception to his plea for a park.
"It would be nice if historical things of this nature could be
recognized," said Community Board 1 District Manager Cedric Loftin,
who advised Carroll on how to bring city council attention to his
proposal. Once a council member approves of the plan, it can be
brought before the Community Board, which would approve or reject the
proposal based on funds available and community opinion. Loftin
expressed his approval of a plaque marking the site, but wavered on
whether a park was possible.
Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro learned of the history of
the site from Carroll only recently and says a commemorative park is
"a very nice idea." He suggested to Carroll the possibility of using
nearby Brook Avenue park, already a city park but containing only a
plot of grass, instead of the studio site. But Castro says there are
currently no funds available to develop the park further and notes
that Parks Commissioner Henry Stern would have final say on the project.
"I do get discouraged," said Carroll of the bureaucratic hurdles. "But
that doesnt stop me."
Those who wish to help in the effort to commemorate the Piccirilli
brothers can email Carroll at MCarrl0073@aol.com.
The Conservation of the Barnard Statuary
By Joseph Sembrat
HISTORY OF THE STATUARY
In 1902, the Pennsylvania-born artist, George Grey Barnard was awarded
the commission for the sculptural groups that were to be placed at the
main entrance of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. Once the
general design for the sculpture was developed, Barnard left for
France to begin the task of creating the 27 marble figures that make
up the two groups. Barnard, plagued with personal financial
difficulties and a very tight schedule throughout the project, was
unable to complete the statues in time for the Capitol dedication on
October 4, 1906. It was not until 1910 that they were finished and
exhibited at the Grande Palais in Paris.
In mid-May, 1911, Barnard came to Harrisburg to supervise the
installation of the groups. The groupâ€™s nudity again became an
as it had in 1905 when photographs of the plaster casts circulated.
Complaints began to arise about the detailing of the nude figures,
especially the portrayal of the male genitals. In an attempt to head
off a public protest, Barnard provided assurances that modesty would
be gratified in an acceptable manner. He designed marble sheaths to
fulfill the same function as the fig leaves the Victorians applied to
antique statuary. These were fabricated by the Piccirilli Brothers,
the same firm who had carved and installed the groups during the
summer months of 1911. The actual dedication of the groups was held on
October 4, 1911, amid much fanfare, exactly five years to the day
after the Capitol was dedicated.
The contract for the groups specified that the sculptures be carved
from â€œthe most durable Blanc Clair Italian Statuary
Marbleâ€� and that
the stone be the best and most durable for open-air monuments. The
Piccirilli Brothers, who supplied it, described it as Bianco P
the finest quarries in Italyâ€� but added that no marble could
the rigors of the climate of the northern United States without
By the late 1920â€™s, concern about the condition of
led to a decision to have them cleaned. On March 3, 1928, William
Henry of CO WA CO, Inc. of New York City, a company specialing in
waterproofing, damp proofing, roofing material, and cement hardeners,
wrote to the Deputy Secretary of Property and Supplies thanking him
for allowing an outside rep of CO WA CO products to make a
presentation about â€œWA-CO-Xteriorâ€�, a special
waterproofing compound developed by George Whigelt, the
technical engineer and superintendent.
â€œThe compound,â€� he wrote, â€œis not a gasoline,
benzene or wax
proposition. It does not place a film on top of the stone, which
eventually peels off. It is a composition of materials which fully
penetrate the stone, carrying with it insoluble materials which
permanently fill the pores of the stone.â€�
On May 21, 1928, CO WA CO submitted a proposal to treat the groups
which would accomplish the removal of surface dirt and soot, the
hardening of the affected surfaces by a special process, and to
finally treat the same in a way so as to prevent absorption of
moisture, thereby preventing the destructive action of frost and the
elements. Before proceeding with the work, CO WA CO informed Barnard
of their plans who felt that the measures were too radical and
unnecessary. Much to Barnardâ€™s dismay however, inspectors found
numerous cracks in the statues. Among the most serious was a crack
â€œwith displacementâ€� on the left foot of the maiden in
the â€œYouth and
Maidenâ€� and cracks at the ankle on both legs of the
Barnard was leaving for Europe and pleaded with the Governor not to
proceed with the work and urged that the groups be covered during the
winter months. Despite Barnardâ€™s protest, the State gave CO WA
notice to proceed. Whigelt later explained to Barnard at great length
the scope of work: CO WA CO removed all pointing and replaced with
same; filled all cracks and fissures; filled all places where water
collects such as around eyes and ears; filled the center of each group
with an additional 18â€� of concrete; filled the entire void
south relief panel with concrete; cleaned all sculptures; and applied
several heavy coats of CO-WA-Xterior.
Upon completion of the work, Whilgelt expressed to Barnard that he had
proof to show that approximately 14 Â½ tons of concrete
were used to
repair the groups. He also expressed to Barnard that the groups were
somewhat darker in color but that they would gradually bleach out
through the action of the elements.
Barnard complained that the groups â€œwere ruined as marble
that a greasy chemical had been applied to them discoloring and
destroying the marble textures.â€� Since the state was also
the company returned to clean the sculptures, only this time using
much more aggressive methods and materials which included,
chemicals, wire brushes, and other coarse treatments which not only
removed partly the protective penetrating waterproofing, but also some
of the surface of the stone itself.â€�
The State at first considered the second cleaning a success, although
the particles of chaulk were still washing off of the surfaces.
However, it soon became apparent that the treatment was a failure
resulting in a streaky, discolored condition.
In October 1929 workmen found new and large fissures in the statuary
of the North Group. The state seemed at a loss as to what to do and
therefore chose to ignore the issue for the next 18 years.
In June 1947 the Philadelphia Bulletin announced that the statues were
being treated with a waterproofing solution by
â€œexpertsâ€� from the
Obelisk Waterproofing Company of New York. The â€œCaffal
process,â€� as it
was termed, â€œstrengthens the stone and provides a water
surfaceâ€� through the use of hot paraffin wax and petroleum
As a side note, the paraffin wax used in the Caffal process was so
effective in adhering to the surface of the stone that we were able to
remove approximate two to three millimeter- thick samples of it from
behind a few of the figures.
The statues were â€œperiodically scrubbed and patchedâ€�
over the next 15
years. In 1962 the grouping were once again cleaned and waterproofed
by Vincent Maragliotti using a silicon compound. More recently, in the
mid-1970â€™s the sculptures were sandblasted, resulting in the
of pollution deposits, but also much of the fine detail and what was
left of the original finish.
In 1996, the statuary was disassembled and underwent a complete
conservation treatment to help stabilize the cracked and fissured
marble figures, as well as, the granite bases that support them. The
work was performed by Professional Restoration with Conservation
Technical Associates acting as its supervisory conservator.
The 1996 treatment involved the cocooning of the sculptures to help
support the heavily cracked and deteriorated forms during their move
to the on-site conservation studios erected just to the north and
south of the two groups. Once in the studio, the cocoons were removed
and the various sculptures were stabilized using
Â¾â€� threaded 316
stainless steel rods. The rods were inserted into holes that were core
drilled into the sculptures. Sika 31 epoxy was used to fill the cavity
around the rod and each end of the threaded assembly was secured with
a large washer and nut. In effect, each sculpture was through-bolted
perpendicular to the plane of cracking.
Once the sculptures were stabilized, they were cleaned with a nebulous
water misting system to help remove carbon deposits and superficial
soiling. More stubborn deposits and stains were cleaned using the JOS
The large network of cracks and fissures was repaired by Dremeling-out
these areas and injecting them with Sika Injection Epoxy. The
injection process was performed by damming the cracks with a silicon
caulk and using Lurlock-type needles as ports. Once the epoxy
hardened, the silicon caulk was removed and the cracks were filled
with a mixture of white Portland cement and dolomite powder. The
sculptures were then reinstalled on the pedestals and a turnbuckle
system was installed to help prevent the figures from shifting. The
interior spaces of the groups were then filled with Styrofoam
insulation and a concrete cap was poured on top of the foam.
In 1999, in an ongoing effort to help stabilize the sculptural groups,
the Capitol Preservation Committee undertook a five-year marble
restoration project. CA Lindman and Conservation Solutions were
awarded the contract for the work.
The project consists of two distinct phases: an intensive pre-cyclical
maintenance program and a cyclical conservation maintenance program.
The intensive pre-cyclical maintenance portion of the project began in
July 2000 and is now complete. The primary focus of the intensive
pre-cyclical maintenance program was to repair deteriorated mortar
joints, previous repairs, and caulking. In addition, it also included
the design and execution of a testing program to evaluate the
effectiveness of various repair treatments and the implementation of a
monitoring program to evaluate the treatment over a five-year period.
The testing program consisted of a tests to: 1) establish a
restoration timeline in order to understand all previous treatments
that were performed on the sculptural groups; 2) establish essential
basic data on the nature and performance of the Carrara marble; 3)
compare the effectiveness of various consolidation and water repellant
materials for Carrara marble; 4) evaluate if there are any adverse
interactions between the proposed conservation materials and those
materials that were used in previous treatments; and 5) evaluate any
possible interactions between the proposed conservation materials and
the Carrara marble.
Results from the testing program supported our initial hypotheses that
the greatest threat to the marble substrate and structural integrity
of the groups was the presence of moisture in conjunction with
repeated freeze-thaw cycles. Water entering the numerous cracks and
fissures in the marble contributed to the exacerbation of this problem
and water entering the failed mortar joints and concrete caps
continued to keep interstitial areas wet for prolonged periods of time.
The testing program recommended the use of a consolidant in localized
areas of heavy deterioration which represents less than 5% of the
total surface area of the sculptures. It was also strongly urged that
the cracks and fissures in the sculptures be filled with a suitable
material, such as a dispersed hydrated lime injection mortar, and that
both groups be treated with a siloxane water repellant.
Since the sculptures were scaffolded and covered for the entire
contract period, it was possible for the marble restoration team to
undertake various forms of investigative and monitoring work without
fear of the weather.
A monitoring system was installed on both groups. The system included
the use of temperature and RH meters inside and outside the enclosure
to determine if an unsafe condition was being created by the
structures. Temperature sensors were placed in and on the surface of
the sculptures in various locations to determine if there was a
thermal/hygral relationship between the cracks, the weather, and solar
radiation. In addition, glass crack monitors were installed in
critical locations to record if there was movement between the
individual blocks of the groups. The data was gathered on a monthly
basis and was evaluated by the testing team over the course of the
In summary, it was found that there were significant temperature
changes from various areas of the groups to another but the
information was inconclusive as to whether is was contributing to the
cracking of the marbles. The monitoring did show that the protective
enclosures were effective in keeping moisture off of the groups and
did not create unfavorable conditions within the spaces.
During the course of the investigation it was noticed that water was
entering the concrete caps in several locations. Although the caps
were installed only five years earlier, several large cracks and the
lack of sufficient documentation prompted the need for further
investigation. Once the committee approved the work, Conservation
Solutions with the assistance of Martin Weaver performed an
exploratory investigation. An opening approximately 36â€� x
36â€� was cut
into the cap using diamond saw blades and a light duty chipping hammer.
The investigation revealed that the concrete cap was made from an
extremely dense concrete, that the cap was twice as thick as specified
in the architects drawings, and that the pink insulation foam inside
was completely saturated with water.
Because of the excessive weight of the concrete and the wedged shape
of the caps, it was felt that they should be removed to prevent the
risk of any structural damage.
A new cap system was designed for the center portion of the groups and
the tops of the relief panels. After a considerable amount of
searching for an appropriate material it was decided that a fiberglass
system would best suit our needs. The present cap system is
lightweight, strong, removable, and will provide sufficient
ventilation to allow the interstitial spaces to dry should they get wet.
In addition, a new turnbuckle system was designed for the groups to
provide additional support for the individual figures, but the
proposed cost of fabrication and installation were out of the
Committeeâ€™s current budget. It was decided instead to monitor
areas for movement and reevaluate the situation in the future if
The actual conservation process undertaken on the sculptures was quite
straightforward and simple. The goals of our treatment were threefold:
1) We wanted to retain as much of the original materials as possible.
We worked hard at reducing the need for the removal of additional
samples and were able to utilize cores from the 1996 treatment for our
testing program; 2) We wanted to retain as many of the previous
repairs as possible without sacrificing the long-term stability of the
sculptures. Since the current contract is to be performed over a
5-year period, we have the added benefit of maintaining previous
repairs and monitoring them over the course of time; and 3) We wanted
to limit the use of synthetic products for the repair work to the
marble substrate. This meant eliminating the use of epoxies and latex
modified pointing and patching compounds.
As per the specifications, all old mortar and caulking were removed
from the groups so that the entire structure could properly dry-out
over a 4-month period. Most of this work was performed with hand tools
and pneumatic chisels. Various colored mortar residues from past
repointing campaigns had been sloppily applied and some areas extended
out approximately three centimeters from the joint. In an effort to
help reduce the unsightly appearance of the mortar joints, residue was
removed using scalpels, small chisels, and the Quintek Micro Swirl Jet
All of the joints in the grouping were repointed with a custom
color-matched Jahn M-120 Marble Patching Mortar. In areas where there
was veining in the stone that ran through a mortar joint, the Jahn
mixture was field-mixed to imitate this effect. Since the colors have
been mixed into the mortar they are more durable than simply staining
the joint, as it will not wear off of the surface.
Sections of stone that were improperly set during the 1996 treatment
were removed, cleaned, and reset using traditional stone setting
techniques. Deteriorated old fills were removed from the cracks and
fissures and the darkened silicone residue was removed with a
solvent-based paint stripper and the Quintek system.
During this work it was noticed that the Sika epoxy that was injected
into the cracks had yellowed and became brittle. It was also noticed
that where the epoxy had come into contact with the surface during the
injection process, it had yellowed and was causing unsightly staining.
The solvent-based paint stripper/Quintek process was also successful
in removing the majority of the epoxy residue with only trace amounts
of ghosting residue left behind.
Fill areas that were previously routered-out during the 1996 treatment
were filled with a custom color-matched Jahn M-120 marble patching
mortar. It is estimated that approximately 800 lineal feet of cracks
were cleaned out and refilled during this process.
Cracks and fissures that were too small to be filled with the Jahn
mortar were injected with a color-matched dispersed hydrated lime
injection mortar. This product proved to be quite amazing as it
provided both a physical barrier to extremely fine cracks but also
improved the aesthetic appearance of the heavily fractured areas.