Jose Marti

  • Sculptor: Anna Hyatt Huntington
  • Dedicated: 1965 (finished 1959)
  • Medium and size: Bronze (18.5 feet), granite pedestal (16.5 feet)
  • Location: Central Park South at Avenue of the Americas
  • Subway: N, R, W to Fifth Avenue - 59th Street

 Marti

Cartoons on the Spanish-American War

Judge 1895

Above: from Judge, 10/19/1895. On the left, outside the window, Spain jumps up and down on Cuba, who carries the banner “Liberty or Death.” Inside, Columbia (the United States) falls asleep holding the news of Cuba (“The Spanish rule in Cuba is a history of bloodshed, tyranny, and brutality”). Behind Columbia, Lafayette and Steuben reproach her: “What! Asleep with that cry for aid at your door! What would have been yourfate if we had acted similarly in your hour of tribulation?”

Judge 1898

Above: Judge 4/30/1898. At the foot is the caption, “ 'War is hell.' – Sherman. Peace in Cuba under Spanish rule is worse than Hell.” Spain, wearing matador pants and a belt that says “Spain” and “Devil’s Deputy,” tramples a skeletally thin Cuban and the corpse of an American sailor with “U.S. Maine” on his collar. The Devil, seated on a pile of skulls, looks cheerfully on. Left of the skulls, a note reads, “Over 500,000 innocent people starved to death by Spain!”

Anna Hyatt Huntington

Huntington (1876-1973), a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is renowned for her animal sculptures. Joan of Arc1915, was her first major commission. In 1923 she married railroad heir Archer Huntington and came to share his passion for Spain, producing an ensemble for the Hispanic Society of America courtyard that includes the Cid, 1936, reliefs of Don Quixote and Boabdil, and numerous animals native to Spain. The Bronx has the Arabella Huntington Memorial (Woodlawn Cemetery.)

Marti, her last major work, was completed when she was 82 years old. Characteristically, Huntington was not only brilliant in her execution of the horse (she was one of America's great animal sculptors), but thorough in her research. The plants below the horse's hoofs are native to Cuba, helping create an exotic setting for a figure who's dressed in conventional 1890s business attire.

Huntington paid for the sculpture; the Cuban government paid for the pedestal. The statue was completed in 1959, but Castro’s revolution in Cuba in 1960 led to fears that a dedication would provoke a battle between pro- and anti-Castro forces in New York. In October 1964, anti-Castroites borrowed a six-foot plaster model from Huntington's studio, but found it too heavy to raise to the empty pedestal. They positioned it on the sidewalk, "confident that the 600-pound statue would not be easily carried away by the police," reported Gay Talese in the New York Times (10/10/1964). "Four hours later the statue was easily carried away by the police." The monument was finally set on its pedestal and unveiled in 1965.

Many of Huntington’s works are on view at Brookgreen Gardens (Pawley's Island, S.C.), which she and her husband founded in 1931 as a showplace for American figurative sculpture. 

Cross References

  • Shown for contrast with Marti: Bolivar, the CidJose de San Martin by Louis Joseph Daumas (Central Park West at 6th Ave.), Washington at Wall St., Hale
  • On the Spanish-American War, see the Maine Monument, Schurz, and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Marti’s description of the Great Blizzard of 1888 is quoted in the Conkling episode.
  • Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan has further discussion on the choice of Marti's death as the moment for this sculpture, plus a long quote from Marti on the differences between North Americans and Cubans.

Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante