How Six Italian Immigrants From the South Bronx Carved Some of the Nation’s Most Iconic Sculptures

You probably know, especially if you’ve read our list of Bronx Facts, that the Piccirilli brothers of the South Bronx carved some of the most iconic sculptures we take for granted like Patience and Fortitude, the lions standing guard at the New York Public Library or even the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in DC.

But the mark that these six Italian brothers from Tuscany, Italy left is far greater than that.

Our friends over at 6sqft have a wonderful post on the history of the Piccirilli brothers and the legacy they left behind.

The Piccirilli Brothers, 1930 via the National Italian American Foundation

6sqft writes:

All six brothers – Attilio, Ferrucio, Furio, Getulio, Masaniello, and Orazio – were born in Massa, Tuscany, near the renowned marble quarries of Carrara, where their father, Giuseppe, was a master carver. Giuseppe taught his trade to all six sons, and Attilio and Furio continued their studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. Fortuitously, the Piccirillis arrived in New York at the dawn of the City Beautiful Movement (1890 – 1920), a model of city planning that sought to engender moral and social uplift through inspiring civic architecture. The movement’s monuments were wrought in the classical carving style the Piccirillis had perfected.

Albert Ten Eyck, a former sculpture curator at the Met, explained, “with the arrival of the Piccirillis, it became unnecessary for American sculptors to go to Italy to have their sculpture translated into marble. It became unnecessary, in fact, for a sculptor to know anything about stone cutting, and some were quite content to model in clay, and have all their stonework done by the Piccirillis.”

And indeed it did appear to become unnecessary as they left their mark across our great city and nation giving us an identity in stone for the ages.

Read the full fascinating story over at 6sqft!

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.