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George Grey Barnard

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George Grey Barnard

George Grey Barnard
Portrait of George Grey Barnard in 1908
Born (1863-05-24)May 24, 1863
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 4, 1938(1938-04-04) (aged 74)
New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Known for Sculpture

George Grey Barnard (May 24, 1863 – April 24, 1938), often written George Gray Barnard, was an American sculptor, "an excellent American sculptor", the French art dealer René Gimpel reported in his diary (1923), "very much engrossed in carving himself a fortune out of the trade in works of art."[1] His major works are largely symbolical in character.[2] His lasting monument is the architectural nucleus of The Cloisters, New York City, rather than any sculpture of his own.


  • Biography 1
  • References 2
  • Further reading 3
  • External links 4


Barnard was born in Art Institute of Chicago, and in 1883–1887 worked in the atelier of Pierre-Jules Cavelier at Paris while he attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He lived in Paris for twelve years, and with his first exhibit at the Salon of 1894 he scored a great success, returning to America in 1896. In 1902, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member.

George Grey Barnard, The Birth, marble. Exhibited at the Armory Show, Gallery A, 1913, New York, no. 1000 of the catalogue.[3] Possibly a study for Barnard's Urn of Life

A strong Manchester, England (1919), and the third in Louisville, Kentucky (1922).

The Great God Pan, one of the first works Barnard completed after his return to America, according to at least one account, was originally intended for the Dakota Apartments on Central Park West. Alfred Corning Clark, builder of the Dakota, had financed Barnard's early career; when Clark died in 1896, the Clark family presented Barnard's Two Natures to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in his memory, and the giant bronze Pan was presented to Columbia University, by Clark's son, Edward Severin Clark, 1907.

Love & Labor;The Unbroken Law (1910), Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Barnard ar work on The Hewer, ca.1902, a clay sculpture. Photograph by W. E. Cooper and G. C. Cox[4]

Barnard had a commanding personal manner: "He talks of art as if it were a cabalistic science of which he is the only astrologer", wrote the unsympathetic Gimpel; "he speaks to impress. He's a sort of Rasputin of criticism. The Rockefellers are his imperial family. And the dealers court him."[5]

Interested in medieval art, Barnard gathered discarded fragments of medieval architecture from French villages before World War I.[6] He established this collection in a church-like brick building near his home in Washington Heights, Manhattan in New York City. The collection was purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1925 and forms part of the nucleus of The Cloisters collection, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[7]

Barnard died following a heart attack on April 24, 1938 at the Harkness Pavilion, Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He was working on a statue of Abel, betrayed by his brother Cain, when he fell ill. He is interred at Harrisburg Cemetery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


  1. ^ Gimpel, Diary of an Art Dealer (John Rosenberg, tr.) 1966:211.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Catalogue of International Exhibition of Modern Art, Association of American Painters and Sculptors, Armory Show, New York. Published 1913
  4. ^ The HewerThe World's work, 1902-03: Barnard ar work on
  5. ^ Gimpel, Diary 15 January 1923.
  6. ^
  7. ^

Further reading

  • Sara Dodge Kimbrough, Drawn from Life: The Story of Four American Artists Whose Friendship & Work Began in Paris During the 1880s, Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1976.
  • Nicholas Fox Weber, The Clarks of Cooperstown: Their Singer Sewing Machine Fortune, Their Great and Influential Art Collections, Their Forty-Year Feud, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

External links

  • Kankakee County Historical Society biography.
  • Chronology of George Grey's life and contributions to the art world.
  • Centre County Historical Society
  • George Grey Barnard at Find a Grave

Archives of American Art

  • Photograph of Barnard's sculpture of Lincoln
  • George Grey Barnard selected papers, 1895-1941
  • George Grey Barnard papers, 1884-1963
  • George Grey Barnard letters to Mr. Van der Weyde
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