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About This Artwork
Nathan Hale, modeled 1890, cast after 1890
h. 72.4 cm (28 1/2 in.)
Inscribed on right side of base: "F. MacMonnies 1890"/stamped, left rear: "E. Gruet Jeune, Paris"
Gift of Robert Allerton, 1923.1840
Frederick William MacMonnies was one of the most important American sculptors of the late 19th century. Nathan Hale represents MacMonnies’s first public commission won by competition, and the sculpture’s installation in City Hall Park in New York brought him immediate fame. MacMonnies spent much of his professional life in France, where he earned and executed this commission. The figure’s modeling is remarkably expressive—even in this version of reduced scale—MacMonnies harmonizing a measure of romanticism with the period’s growing taste for naturalism in bronze. A Revolutionary War–era hero hanged by the British in 1776, Hale is shown moments before his death, his arms and feet bound, his clothes disheveled, yet his demeanor strong and dignified.
— Permanent collection label
Judith A. Barter et al, American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 278-280, no. 138.
Robert Allerton, Chicago, by 1923; given to the Art Institute, 1923.