Monday, May 18, 2015

Morris Hunt memorial on 5th Ave

One of the most prominent American architects of his day, Richard Morris Hunt is often called the "Dean of American architecture".  By the close of the 19th century, Hunt was the best known and most fashionable architect in America.
Hunt spent his childhood mostly in Europe . In 1846 he became the first American to enter the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris - the finest school of architecture in the world.


Breakers, Newport
In 1855 Hunt settled in New York.  He founded the first American architectural school and in 1857      with twelve others - co-founded the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Greatly influenced by his Parisian architectural training  Hunt became a champion of the Beaux-Arts idiom in America. Over the next decades  Hunt established a new style   for the grand mansions of the era's eccentric billionaires.
Morris Hunt built  Marquand mansion at 11 East 68th Street for his friend,  Henry Gurdon Marquand.  Marquand  was one of the great art collectors of the 19th century the treasurer and the president  of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for 13 years . 

Petit Chateau

Hunt also built the Breakers, the magnificent estate for Cornelius Vanderbilt in Newport , Rhode Island and Petit Chateau   on the northwest corner of 52nd Street and Fifth Avenue and.   The Commodore's grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II was the   Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad.


When it was completed , the chateau would be the largest home ever built in New York City, with 137 rooms, 37 bedrooms, 16 baths, a library, numerous salons, a baronial dining room, smoking room and a magnificent ballroom. 


The Marquand  mansion was demolished in 1912.  Petit Chateau  was turned down in 1926 and gave way to Bergdorf Goodman department store. 
Breakers  survived and you can visit as I did several years ago. Today, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark. It is now the most-visited attraction in Rhode Island with approximately 400,000 visitors annually and is open year-round for tours.


If you do  not have time to visit Newport you still can enjoy his projects. In New York City, Hunt's handiwork can be seen on the austere pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and on the elegant 5th Avenue facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Administration Building
Hunt died in 1895 and was in Newport, Rhode Island. 
Three  years after Hunt's death   in 1988 the famous  sculptor Daniel Chester French was commissioned by the  Municipal Art Society to create  Hunt Memorial .
The memorial is installed in the wall of Central Park across Fifth Avenue from today’s Frick Museum at 70th Street. 


The allegorical rendering of "Architecture" is on the north (right facing) side of the Hunt Memorial  holds in her hands a model of one of Hunt's most famous works, the Administration Building from the 1893 World's Fair.