Arts of War and Peace

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Washington, D.C.

Client: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Project Type: Historic Structure Report

The gilded-bronze equestrian statues known as the “Arts of War” and the “Arts of Peace” are significant monuments on Lincoln Circle at the west terminus of the Washington Mall. The statues flank the entrances to Arlington Memorial Bridge and Rock Creek Parkway.

The “Arts of War,” “Sacrifice” and “Valor” were sculpted by Leo Friedlander. The “Arts of Peace,” “Music and Harvest” and “Aspiration and Literature” were sculpted by James Earle Fraser. The pylons for all four statues were designed by William Mitchell Kendall of McKim, Mead and White. In 1949 the Italian government offered to undertake the casting work in Italy as a gift to the United States.

The sculptures have been problematic from the time of their casting in 1950. By 1959 serious problems with the gilding were recognized, and by 1971, the National Park Service undertook a program of both interior and exterior work, including regilding the statues. Corrosion, discoloration, and other problems still plague the statues.

John G. Waite Associates prepared a historic structure report for the statues, recording their history, the existing conditions, and problems of repair. Stone and metals conservators designed cleaning tests for the granite pedestals and conducted laboratory testing of the bronze alloys and gilded finishes. The report includes recommendations for the statues’ immediate conservation and long-term maintenance.