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Piccirilli Studio (site of)

About this listing

Stone carvers' studio that made many famous sculptures

Place Details

Borough : Bronx
Neighborhood : Mott Haven
Industrial, What New Yorkers Find Beautiful, Arts and Entertainment, Euro/ American, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

By Breanne Scanlon

The former Piccirilli studio housed a famed family of Italian immigrant stone carvers and sculptors.

While most New Yorkers are familiar with the artistic works of the Piccirilli Brothers, very few know their name or their story. Giuseppe Piccirilli and his six sons transported their sculpting and carving business from Italy to New York City in the late 19th century. Their works, which include the Maine Monument at Columbus Circle, the lions at the New York Public Library, the pediment of the New York Stock Exchange, and the Firemen's Monument in Riverside Park, have become enduring symbols of New York City for residents and visitors alike.

In 1887, sculptor and stone-carver Giuseppe Piccirilli moved from his home in Tuscany, Italy to New York City. He brought with him his wife, daughter, and six sons. He and his sons--Attilio, Furio, Ferrucio, Getulio, Masaniello, and Orazio--who were also trained in sculpting and stone carving, determined to continue the family sculpting and carving

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Sources

Interview with Bill Carroll by Breanne Scanlon for Place Matters, Mar. 2008

Josef V. Lombardo, Attillio Piccirilli: Life of an American Sculptor (1944)

Joseph Sciorra & Peter Vellon, "Onorio Ruotolo: A Life in Art and Politics," America & Italia Review (2004),

The Noguchi Museum: www.noguchi.org

New York Times: Obituary for Horatio Piccirilli, June 29, 1954; "Six Brothers Who Left Their Marks as Sculptors," Oct. 17, 1999; "For These Carvers of Monuments, a Plaque of Their Own," July 27, 2003.

"Engraving Bronx Name," New York Daily News, July 28, 2002.

[Posted, Apr. 2008]

Nominations

Mary Shelley Carroll

On this site was the studio of the six Piccirilli brothers, master stone carvers whose works include the New York Public Library Lions, the Maine Memorial and the Washington Square Arch in New York City, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. My husband grew up in the South Bronx not far from where the original studio was located. He became intrigued in later life to find out that among so many famous sculptures, the Lincoln Memorial had been carved just a few blocks away from where he lived. As an amateur art historian, and with me in tow, we began to research this story. We feel that it is a lost piece of American art history, and we also feel that it is something that the South Bronx community needs to know about and become engaged in learning of it.

The Piccirilli story is many things: it is a tale of immigrants coming to this country armed with their skills and their craftsmanship and their art. They worked for the most famous sculptors of the day, men who did not carve their own pieces. They brought them to these master craftsmen, who turned their clay models into sculptures like the Lincoln, the pediment of the New York Stock Exchange, the pediment of the U.S. House of Representatives. As artists, they did their own sculptures which dot our country. Some examples of their work are the Maine Monument at Columbus Circle, the Firemen's Memorial at 100th and Riverside and many pieces in private hands as well as in museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Though the physical building no longer exists, the street has been renamed Piccirilli Place to honor these six brothers, and we hope that the artistic life they laid down there 100 years ago might again flourish in the South Bronx.

This place exists only in the mind, through photographs and through some still alive people who visited there and were witnesses to these brothers' greatness.

(February, 2008)


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