The animaliers who brought nature to the city

This sculpture—a brutal depiction of a goat being carried away in the talons of two strong eagles—is the work of an animalier: a sculptor of animals.

Bronzes like these were popular in the second half of the 19th century, and they’re all over New York parks and zoos.

“The naturalistic and sometimes fierce imagery or this type of sculpture is meant to evoke the strength of nature, expanding on 18th century Romanticism,” the New York City Parks Department website explains.

 “Eagles and Prey,” by Christophe Fratin, has another distinction: it’s the oldest sculpture in any city park, cast in Paris in 1850.

Not all the animalier statues were so harsh though; later works were much gentler—such as Lioness and Cubs, by Victor Peter, cast in 1899 and on display at the Prospect Park Zoo. 

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9 Responses to “The animaliers who brought nature to the city”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    My favorite is a husky from the Gold Rush or something about that time, somewhere in the 60s or 70s Streets. I was sitting atop that husky as other kids stooped down from getting in the photo with me sitting so boldly on its back. “Mush!” I say…and smile and walk away.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Might be the statue of Balto–he’s the sled dog who brought medicine to sick Alaskans in the 1920s:

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Yes, that’s the one, right on the edge of the underpass. I just couldn’t recall the name. Thanks wildnewyork and Balto…

  4. Joe R Says:

    Where can I find that eagle and goat sculpture?

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    It’s in the center of the park, near the mall, around 70th Street I’d say.

  6. A heroic and heart-tugging statue in Central Park « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] City parks are filled with animal sculptures—some quite brutal and realistic, reminding genteel urbanites of the power and grandeur of nature. […]

  7. The secret wild boar of Sutton Place « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] wild boar is a powerful piece of animal art. Of course, it’s not exactly a cuddly sculpture for kids—especially on the base, where […]

  8. The panther on the hunt in Central Park « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] and was inspired by the real-life animals at the Central Park Zoo (then called the Menagerie) was an animalier, and his jaguars, lions, and other cats are on display in cities across the […]

  9. The tigress and her cubs feasting in Central Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] by French animalier August Nicholas Cain, it’s one of the oldest statues in Central Park and was presented to park officials in 1867 […]

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