Henry Merwin Shrady (1871 - 1922) was born in New York City on October 12, 1871, the son of a prominent physician. He studied Law at Columbia University and was primarily a self taught artist having never received any formal training in art. Like most of the artists of his time, he frequented many of the New York City Zoos and sketched the animals. Shrady's first attempt at sculpture was a model of six horses and riders pulling a caisson and cannon which he called Artillery Going Into Action. He used his own saddle horse as the model for the horses in this grouping.
A sketch of Going into Action was seen by an employee of the Gorham Company and Shrady was asked to provide models for the Gorham Company to cast in bronze. His earliest sculptural works, Bull Moose and Elk Buffalo (also know as Monarch of the Plains), were cast in bronze by the Gorham Company and were sold by the Theodore B. Starr Company in New York City.
Shrady's sculptures were seen by the famous American sculptor Karl Bitter, who persuaded Shrady to exhibit eight life size animal sculptures at the 1901 Pan American Exhibit in Buffalo, New York. Shrady won the competition for the monument of George Washington at Valley Forge in Brooklyn, NY in which he used an adaptation of his early model of a Calvary horse titled The Empty Saddle.
Shrady received two other commissions for monuments in his short career. One was for the Appomattox Memorial to General Ulysses S. Grant which stands outside of the entrance to the United States Capital building in Washington DC. Shrady was awarded this commission in a competition over 51 other famous American artists who also submitted entries.
His other monumental commission was to be a compendium to the Grant monument to be installed in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. The Lee monument was titled Lee at Appomattox. Both of these monuments were to commemorate the end of the conflict that had divided the country. These two monumental works took 19 years to complete. Shrady did not live to see the completion of either of these two monuments. He died in New York City on April 12, 1922 while both the Grant And Lee monuments were being cast by Roman Bronze Works.
The life of Henry Merwin Shrady is documented in the following books:
Dictionary of American Sculptors by Glenn Opitz
Bronzes of the American West by Patricia Broder (1973)
American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1965)
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