Historic, but not famous

Philip H. Martiny, sculptor

Philip H. Martiny (Alsace, 19 May 1858 – 1927) was a Franco-American sculptor who worked in the Paris atelier of Eugene Dock, where he became foreman before emigrating to New York in 1878—to avoid being drafted into the French army.

In the US he often worked in cooperation with architects in Beaux-Arts architecture. He had a sculpture studio in McDougal Alley, a former mews behind Washington Square Park. Much of his work is in New York City, though he provided bas-reliefs for the Art Institute of Chicago and for government buildings in Washington, DC.

Though he was a member of the National Sculpture Society, Philip Martiny was not considered by his contemporaries as a sculptor of the first rank. When he received the job of completing the designs for the New York City Hall of Records (later the Surrogate’s Court) after the death of the architect, many architects raised serious objections. He was associated with Tammany Hall who assigned him the project. The New York Art Commission had authority to accept or reject sculpture by Martiny for the building. Daniel Chester French, one of the most prolific and acclaimed American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, best known for his design of the monumental work, the statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC was called in to approve the Martiny sculptures. Martiny finished the work in 1907.

After World War I, Martiny received two commissions for colossal figures commemorating the fallen soldiers: the Chelsea Park Memorial, at 28th Street and 9th Avenue and the memorial in Abingdon Square Park, where 8th Avenue begins.

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