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The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of renowned marble carvers and sculptors who carved a large number of the most significant marble sculptures in the United States, including Daniel Chester French’s colossal Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
In 1888, Giuseppe Piccirilli (1844–1910), a well-known stone carver and a veteran of Garibaldi's Unification war, brought his family to New York City from Massa di Carrara, in Tuscany, Italy. The entire family, father and six sons—Ferruccio (1864–19??), Attilio (1866–1945), Furio (1868–1949), Masaniello (1870–1951), Orazio (Horatio) (1872–1954) and Getulio (1874–1956)—were trained as marble cutters and carvers.
Although the Piccirilli Brothers were known primarily as architectural modelers and the carvers of other sculptors’ works, Attilio and Furio would further distinguish themselves as sculptors in their own right.
The family lived in a brownstone on 142nd Street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and set up a workshop next to their home that would eventually occupy an entire city block.
At that time most prominent sculptors would create their original work in clay. From that clay model a caster would generate a plaster model. The model would then be sent to the Piccirilli Brothers who would carve it from stone, typically marble, although limestone and granite were also used. The brothers became the carvers of choice for a large number of American sculptors of the time including Daniel Chester French and Paul Wayland Bartlett.
Besides their work as carvers the Piccirilli Brothers also created architectural detailing and embellishments for a large number of public and private buildings.
One of the great losses in American art history occurred when the Piccirilli Brothers studio quietly closed its doors and no move was made to secure their records, so the accounts of much of what they had accomplished was lost.
Original sculpture by the Piccirilli Brothers
- USS Maine National Monument, H. Van Buren Magonigle, architect, Atillio Piccirilli, sculptor 1913; Columbus Circle, New York City.
- Firemen's Memorial, H. Van Buren Magonigle, architect, Atillio Piccirilli, sculptor figures of Courage and Duty 1913: Riverside Park at 100th Street, New York City
- Much of the stonework on the California Building and the attached buildings at the Panama-California Exposition (1915).
- Manitoba Legislative Building, 1919, Simon and Boddington, architects, figures of Sieur de La Vérendrye and Lord Selkirk, plus many architectural figures and details, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Riverside Church, Riverside Drive, NYC 1931
Selected works carved for other sculptors
- Washington Square Arch (1895), Stanford White, architect, New York City.
- New York Stock Exchange (1903), George B. Post, architect, New York City.
- Pedimental sculpture: Integrity Protecting the Works of Man (1904), John Quincy Adams Ward and Paul Bartlett, sculptors
- U.S. Custom House, Cass Gilbert, architect, New York City.
- Civic Virtue Fountain (1909), Frederick MacMonnies, sculptor, Thomas Hastings, architect. Originally created for New York City Hall Park, moved in 1941 to Queens Borough Hall, moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in 2012.
- Pennsylvania State Capitol sculpture groups (1911), George Grey Barnard, sculptor, Joseph Miller Huston, architect, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
- Brooklyn Museum, McKim, Mead, and White, architects, Brooklyn, New York City.
- Pedimental sculpture: Apotheosis of Democracy (1916), House of Representatives Wing, United States Capitol, Paul Bartlett, sculptor, Thomas U. Walter, architect, Washington, D.C.
- New York Public Library, (1916) Carrère and Hastings, architects, New York City.
- Death and the Sculptor (1917), Daniel Chester French, sculptor, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carved from French's 1893 plaster model.
- Abraham Lincoln (1920), Daniel Chester French, sculptor, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
- DuPont Circle Fountain (1921), Daniel Chester French, sculptor, Henry Bacon, architect, Washington, D.C.
- Tomb of the Unknowns (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) (1931), Thomas Hudson Jones, sculptor, Lorimer Rich, architect, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Washington Square Arch (1895-1918), New York City: architectural ornament and Washington statues
Brooklyn Museum (1913), Brooklyn, New York City: pedimental sculpture and cornice figures
United States Capitol (1916), Washington, D.C.: House of Representatives pedimental sculpture
New York Public Library (1916), New York City: Lions, cornice figures, pedimental sculpture
Abraham Lincoln (1920), Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Tomb of the Unknowns (1931), Arlington National Cemetery
- Kamerling, Bruce (Summer 1989). "Early Sculpture and Sculptors in San Diego". Journal of San Diego History. 35 (3). Retrieved 4 January 2017.
- Baker, Marilyn, Manitoba’s Third Legislative Building: Symbols in Stone: The At and Politics of a Public Building, Hyperion Press Limited, Winnipeg, Manitoba 1986
- Balfour, Alan, Rockefeller Center – Architecture As Theater, McGraw-Hill Book Company, NY, NY 1978
- Bogart, Michele H., Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City: 1890–1930, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1989
- Contemporary American Sculpture Issued for the Exhibition held by the National Sculpture Society in Cooperation with the Trustees of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, MCMXXIX, National Sculpture Society, NY 1929
- Gardner, Albert Ten Eyck, American Sculpture: A catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1965
- Kvaran, Einar Einarsson and Walt Lockley, Guide to Architectural Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript
- Lombardo, Josef Vincent, Atilio Piccirilli: Life of an American Sculptor, Pitman Publishing Corporation, New York 1944
- Reynolds, Donald Martin, Monuments and Masterpieces; Histories and views of Public Sculpture in New York City, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York 1988
- Somma, Thomas P. The Apotheosis of Democracy, 1908–1916: The Pediment for the House Wing of the United States Capitol, University of Delaware Press, Newark 1995
- The Riverside Church in the City of New York: A Handbook of the Institution and Its Buildings, The Rivrsude Church, New York 1931