A famous statue stands at the southeast corner of New York City’s Central Park: the General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument.
The sculpture shows the allegorical figure of Victory, with one arm outstretched and the other gripping a palm leaf, striding ahead of General Sherman. There is a numismatic connection to this monument; it came to life by the hands of the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who included this same figure of Victory on a highly-regarded coin that he designed in the early 1900s.
After the sculptor’s death, his widow authorized eight smaller-scale reproductions of the figure of Victory from the Sherman monument. Of those eight, three are privately owned, one of which recently sold in an auction to rare coin collector and dealer Kevin Lipton. This Coin Week article explains in more detail.
Wanting to share his new acquisition with others, Lipton went through considerable effort to display her at the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in Pittsburgh earlier this month. To promote the special display, Lipton commissioned four numismatic artists to create their own version of Victory, inspired by Saint-Gaudens’ sculpture. This CoinNews article offers the full story.
I feel fortunate to be one of those four artists. My drawing is below; a side view of Victory, in nearly the same pose as Saint-Gaudens sculpted her, with some additions and modifications that make it my own.
• Like Saint-Gaudens, I hired a model to pose as a reference for the drawing. My Victory drawing shows the model I hired and is not intended to represent Hettie Anderson, the woman who posed for Saint-Gaudens.
• I gave my figure of Victory wings that are modelled after those of a bald eagle.
• Since victory is ideally a precursor to peace, I included doves in my drawing, in a way that Victory can be seen as gesturing them forward. Doves are symbols of peace, and these are a North American species – the Mourning dove Zenaida macroura.
• In my drawing, the palm leaf, historically seen as a symbol of victory, is also an American species (the Dwarf Palmetto palm, Sabal minor. In my research for this piece, I learned that most of the palm species native to the USA have these fan-like leaves.
• Saint-Gaudens gave his figure a crown of laurel leaves. I crowned Victory with oak leaves, an American species that symbolizes strength. Additionally, an oak seedling grows below Victory’s feet.
At the ANA convention, I’m photographed below signing a large print of the drawing—a donation to the American Numismatic Association by Kevin Lipton. The beautiful sculpture of Victory stands behind me.
My original drawing of Victory is available here.