Standing figure of a bearded Columbus with a cloth draped over his proper right shoulder. His proper right hand holds the cloth in front as his proper left leg comes forward. The base has two reliefs depicting LaSalle at Cahokia and Columbus at sea, and the base also incorporates benches.
The front panel dedicates the monument:
The back panel states
The monumental figure who confronts the visitor just inside the Grand Avenue entrance to Tower Grove Park is Christopher Columbus, in one of the very few bearded depictions of that explorer. Although dated 1884 on the tall red granite pedestal designed by George I. Barnett, the statue was not actually unveiled until 12 October 1886.
The statue was commissioned by Henry Shaw from the Munich sculptor Ferdinand von Milller. His sculpture of Columbus for Tower Grove Park was the first bronze sculpture of the explorer in the U.S. One of the two reliefs on the side of the pedestal shows La Salle arriving at Cahokia on 12 February 1682; the other shows the arrival of Columbus on 12 October 1492 (see below).
Also believed to be the only statue in the US of a bearded Columbus, a feature added at the insistence of the donor. A rumor has it that objecting, the sculptor carved on the statue: "I knew he didn't have a beard."
IAS files contain an unidentified newspaper article which discusses disagreement between the artist and Henry Shaw over whether Columbus should wear a beard. Miller did not believe that it was historically accurate to depict Columbus with a beard, but he included one at Shaw's insistence.
This monument on postcards
- Ferdinand Freiherr von Miller (München 1842-München 1929), German sculptor (Wikipedia).
Sources & Information
- Large photo taken by Greg McIntosh with Peter van der Krogt's digital camera (that's Peter, in front of the statue!). Side panel photos: Peter van der Krogt, September 1999, during the conference of the Society for the History of Discoveries.
- Postcard is a color chromolitho mailing card done by Rafael Tuck & Sons. Author's collection. Sent to me by Jane R. Pepper, of St. Louis, Mo. (click on their logo for their web page).
- Christopher Columbus Surveys Tower Grove Park
- Tributes to Christopher Columbus in the United States.
- Néstor Ponce de León, The Columbus Gallery (New York, 1893), p. 128.
- J.M. Dickey, Christopher Columbus and his Monument Columbia (1892), pp. 279-280.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information system).
Location (N 38°36'18" - W 90°14'34")
Item Code: usmo02;
Added: 1 September 1999
/ Photograph: 1 September 1999
© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt