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Photographer's Note

This is the famous Andrew Jackson Memorial bronze, located in Lafayette Park just in front of the White House, so there are LOTS of photos of it, from various perspectives. It's sometimes difficult to get creative with such a frequently-photographed subject, so I just went for a traditional placement here and tried to present it in its entirety, with the lovely sky in the background.

About the artist: Clark Mills was orphaned at a young age and went to live with an uncle, but he ran away from home when he was just thirteen. He drifted from town to town, picking up odd jobs to support himself. He reportedly experienced frostbite while working as a lumberjack, however, so he decided to give up manual labor jobs and learn a trade. He moved to Charleston, South Carolina and trained as a cabinetmaker, millwright and even an ornamental plasterer. It was this latter occupation that helped him find his true calling as a sculptor. He even invented a new way of creating life masks (people were seemingly obsessed with creating "masks" in the 19th century) which was cheaper than any existing method, which resulted in an influx of commissions and increasing popular demand for his work. Mills traveled to Washington in 1847 to study the sculptural works on display in the capital, and due to his acclaim, he was eventually commissioned by the Congress to create this equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, astride his steed, Duke, at the battle of New Orleans. He reportedly beat out another rather notable artist of the day, Hiram Powers. Mills thus established his own foundry and continued to produce voluminous works, including a monumental equestrian sculpture of George Washington and, most notably, the Freedom statue which now looms large above the Capitol dome.

The sculpture: this original was erected in 1853, but there are now several copies on display elsewhere in the country, in New Orleans (1856) and Nashville (1880). Somewhat surprisingly, the most recent was cast in 1987 to be displayed in Jacksonville, Florida. Andrew Jackson (also called "Old Hickory") has received some harsh criticism in recent years, however, because of his brutal policy toward indigenous native peoples, which has only recently been more widely acknowledged (my ancestors are Cherokee, so the issue is something of a personal one), but the statues are still popular photography subjects, even for me. Notwithstanding its subject, the sculpture is significant for several reasons: first, it's the first monumental equestrian statue to be cast in bronze in the entire country, and according to whitehousehistory.org it's the first in the world where the work balances entirely on the horse's hind legs. This source also states that the way in which the horse is positioned indicates how the subject fared in battle, depending on the position of the hooves, which supposedly reveal whether the subjects survived. One raised hoof means that the rider was wounded, and two raised hooves means that he was killed; when the rider stands beside the horse, both were killed in battle. That's not the case for this sculpture, however: the position reportedly indicates that the rider achieved a rank even higher than general (US President).

Jackson died in 1845, at age 78. He, along with Thomas Jefferson, are sometimes credited with being the founders of the Democratic Party (Yikes!). Shortly following his death, President James K. Polk, Secretary of State James Buchanan (who went on to become president) and John L. O'Sullivan, editor of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, met to discuss fundraising efforts for a statue commemorating the former president. The Jackson Monument Committee was established in September, 1845, which coordinated both plans and fundraising efforts. Initially, the committee approached Hiram Powers in 1846 (who was in Italy at the time) to inquire about cost; Hiram replied that the total cost would be about $30,000, and then set upon trying to gain the commission for himself through his agent Miner Kilbourne Kellogg, who had painted a portrait of Andrew Jackson. The cost turned out to be too great, however. Cave Johnson, a committee member and then-postmaster general, just by chance met Clark Mills at a Washington dinner, and discussed the matter with him. Clark was entirely self-taught, but talented. Mills had been offered a fellowship of sorts to study sculpture in Italy, which he relinquished to work full time on the Jackson sculpture even before he had won the commission, which he received in March, 1848. Mills's commitment to the project was obvious. He reportedly studied the anatomy of multiple breeds of horses and even dissected them. Mills established a wooden structure at the south end of the Treasury Department Building which served as the foundry and his residence. Mills also reportedly used his own horse, Olympus, a Thoroughbred as a model, and taught him to rear onto his hind legs in his studio. Mills even borrowed Jackson's uniform, saddle and bridle from the Patent Office to ensure historical accuracy. The cannons at the base are the four which Jackson captured from the Spanish during his Pensacola Campaign in 1818. They are indeed historic; the pair on the north side were cast at the royal foundry in Barcelona in 1748 and were reportedly named for two Visigoth kings, el Witiza and eel Egica. The two on the southside were cast in 1773 and were named el Apolo and el Aristeo, two Greek gods.

The statue was revealed nd received with great fanfare, which included a parade, when it was finally dedicated in Lafayette Park on January 8, 1853, the 38th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. Reportedly, 20,000 people attended the event. Models of the statue were soon cast and distributed all over the country. Check out the website for more information, and for some awesome historic photos and paintings of this statue and its surroundings.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 88 W: 78 N: 947] (1735)
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