Edward Ardolino

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Edward Ardolino
Born20 November 1883
Died12 April 1945(1945-04-12) (aged 61)
Burial placeHillside Cemetery (Metuchen, New Jersey, U.S.)
OccupationArchitectural sculptor
Spouse(s)Nicolina de Cristofaro

Edward (Ermelindo Eduardo) Ardolino (20 November 1883 – 12 April 1945) was an Italian-born American stone carver and architectural sculptor of the early twentieth century. He was the most prominent member of the Ardolino family of stone carvers. He worked with leading architects and sculptors, including architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and sculptor Lee Lawrie. Ardolino participated in at least nine Goodhue-Lawrie collaborations including the Los Angeles Public Library and the Nebraska State Capitol. His carvings adorn a significant number of important public and private buildings and monuments, including four buildings in the Federal Triangle of Washington, D.C.

Biography[edit]

Ardolino was born into a long line of stone carvers on November 20, 1883, in Torre Le Nocelle, Province of Avellino, Italy.[1] On his 1898 immigration record when he was only 14 years of age, he identified himself as a sculptor.[2] He was joining his older brother Charles (Clamanzio Celestino) Ardolino, who was a stone carver in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1900, the two brothers established a company, Ardolino Brothers, documented on their business letterhead. They contracted with others, including cousin Ralph (Angelo Raffaele) Ardolino, to assist in fulfilling their commissions.[3]

In 1907, Edward Ardolino married Nicolina de Cristofaro, and together they had four children. Ardolino moved the family frequently as his early career took him throughout the northeastern United States, the Midwest and Canada. In the 1920s, he settled his family in Metuchen, New Jersey.[4]

From 1914-1916, Edward assumed responsibility for the company when Charles went abroad to create fountains for their hometown’s first public water system.[5][6][7] In 1916, Ardolino Brothers formed a partnership with Giuseppe and Raffaele Menconi of Menconi Brothers of New York City under the name Menconi and Ardolino Brothers.[8] They maintained offices in New York, Boston, Chicago and Toronto. In 1920, Edward, acting on his own, formed another partnership called Ricci, Ardolino and Di Lorenzo.[9]

The following year Edward dissolved his business relationship with his brother Charles and founded his own company, Edward Ardolino, Inc., with offices in New York City and Philadelphia.[10] Charles operated under the original company name Ardolino Brothers in conjunction with his son Angelo and his father John until his passing in 1926.

Between 1929 and 1931, Edward Ardolino designed, created and installed a marble and bronze war memorial for his town of birth.[11][12]The monument incorporates a bronze figure of Winged Victory. In 2013, the war monument was restored with a grant from the Italian government.[13]

Edward Ardolino died on April 12, 1945, in Metuchen, New Jersey.[14]

Career[edit]

Early in his career Ardolino worked with leading American architects and sculptors. He had a number of commissions in conjunction with Carrère and Hastings,[15] who made their mark in 1911 with their design for the New York Public Library.

Other early commissions included joint projects of the well-respected architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue and sculptor Lee Lawrie. Ardolino executed carvings for them in styles ranging from Gothic Revival, such as the West Point Chapel,[16] to what became known as Art Deco, exemplified by the Los Angeles Public Library[17] and the Nebraska State Capitol.[18][19][20] The latter two are arguably the most innovative works of Goodhue’s career[19] and were ranked in the top 120 architectural sites in a recent study of America's favorite buildings.[21]

Goodhue publicly advocated for Ardolino to win contracts on his projects, saying he had “proved his ability to grasp and execute in stone the character desired by Mr. Lawrie.”[18] [22] After Goodhue’s death in 1924, Ardolino continued to work with Lawrie, the recipient of prestigious architectural and sculptural awards.[23] Most of the Goodhue and Lawrie collaborations fulfilled in conjunction with Ardolino were invited into historic registers or achieved landmark status.

Goodhue and Lawrie Projects[edit]

The Federal Triangle[edit]

Destiny pediment, National Archives Building, sculpted by Weinman, carved by Ardolino

In the early 1930s when the Federal Triangle was being developed, Ardolino was on a short list of nationally known stone carvers. In the opinion of highly respected architect John Russell Pope, there were only three New York firms whose carvings would be “properly done.” They were Edward Ardolino, John Donnelly, and Piccirilli Brothers.[40] During this period Ardolino was awarded commissions for four federal buildings. All four reside within a designated historical district.

  • The Department of Commerce Building, designed by architects York and Sawyer, was constructed from 1927 to 1932. The modeling firm was Ricci and Zari. Ardolino’s carvings include: the eagles along the cornice of the 14th Street façade, the third floor keystones, four panels at each of four driveway entrances, and eight urns.[41]
  • The Departmental Auditorium, designed by architect Arthur Brown Jr., was constructed from 1931 to 1936. Edward Ardolino company carved the Constitution Avenue pediment “Columbia” (Edgar Walter, sculptor) and also the nearby panels in the upper right and left corners behind the columns (Léon Hermant, sculptor) and the panel and spandrels above the central arch behind the columns (Edmond Amateis, sculptor).[44]

Legacy[edit]

Throughout his career Ardolino won commissions that ranged widely in geographic location and type – from corporate and university structures, to government buildings, houses of worship and opulent residences. Experts like Ralph Adams Cram, supervising architect of Princeton University Chapel, shared credit for the chapel’s quality with Ardolino in particular, saying his stone carving was “the best of its kind.”[47] Ardolino was also credited as the building’s sole carver.[48]

Edward Ardolino’s papers were not archived upon his death, so his total number of commissions is unknown. Nearly a dozen are attributed to him only through extant copies of his business letterhead. Of his known works, over 60 percent achieved landmark or historic status or reside within an historical district.

Additional Historic/Landmark Works[edit]

Other Works[edit]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Designated as Historic or Landmark Status
  2. ^ a b Carvers included Ralph Ardolino
  3. ^ Ralph Adams Cram is also credited as architect in “A Walking Tour of Saint Thomas Church,” 1 W. 53rd St., NY, NY. Undated pamphlet.
  4. ^ Ulric Ellerhusen designed the sculptural program above the 30’ mark.
  5. ^ Initial sculpture program by Lee Lawrie; reredos designed by Earl N. Thorp.
  6. ^ Mayers Murray & Phillip completed Goodhue’s project upon his death.
  7. ^ Exterior panels reportedly carved by Ardolino employee Alessandro Berretta
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Documented on the business letterhead of Edward Ardolino in the Lee Lawrie Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Citations[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

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