Sculpture Spotlight: Farragut Monument
A Collaboration by architect Stanford White (1853-1906) and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), the monument of David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870) is one of the finest outdoor monuments in New York City, and an excellent example of American art of the period. Farragut was an admiral in the US Navy, known especially for his service to the Union during the American Civil War.
The memorial, which includes a granite base and bronze statue, was erected to honor Farragut for taking his fleet past the forts of Mobile Bay where the Admiral spoke his famous line “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” While this memorial is the only example that remains of White’s work in the park, he went on to design the second Madison Square Garden and the Madison Square Presbyterian Church.
While Saint-Gaudens went on gain success for his monuments commemorating other Civil War heroes, his statue of Admiral Farragut was his first major work. The base depicts the Admiral’s sword cutting through the waves of the sea with a figure of a woman on either side, one representing Courage, the other Loyalty. The figure of Farragut (measuring 8’5″) is shown as if on deck of his ship, heading into battle. Originally unveiled in 1881 and facing Fifth Avenue near the corner of twenty-sixth Street, it was later moved to be perfectly centered on the park’s north-south axis at the north end of the park near the reflecting pool.