Money behind public art monumnets

When one thinks of monuments, obviously, one of the bigger ones is Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. One must almost assume that there must have been some public money spent on public art. Indeed, even if much of the initial money behind the idea for the monument was raised from private sources, there still remains some public money which goes to the national parks service to operate the park. The National Park Service probably oversees several areas of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) as well.

Mount Rushmore was chosen to promote tourism, and encourage people to visit South Dakota. People have said that it is an impressive structure. When one considers that the original proposal was for the bust (from the waist up) it could have been more impressive, but supposedly, money running out was cited as a reason for scaling down the project completed by the son of the artist. Yet at the same time, one probably needs to consider that the artist died while working on the piece. The artist’s son completed the work.

Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia is another place displaying public art. The monuments are of Civil War veterans with their horses sometimes to designate when they died. With the monument to Robert E. Lee on his horse, and the monument to Jeb Stuart on his horse raised up, signifying that he died in battle was an interesting contrast.  

The notion of equestrian statues is used to serve as a tribute to some people who lived during times of war.

The statues themselves with horses would be expensive, most likely reserved for generals and others who had enough money to deserve tribute with such a large send off.

Legend and lore states that the placement of hooves of the horse was significant as to when the person died. It is generally accepted that when a horse has all four legs planted on the ground, it signifies that the person died of unrelated causes. When the horse has both front legs raised up, the rider supposedly died in battle, while if the horse had one hoof raised, the person died later of wounds contracted during battle. Snopes has an interesting article on this.

The consensus is that there were probably several different equestrian statue makers, and they probably did as they pleased for the person commissioning the tribute (he who pays, gets to shape how history is remembered).

Gettysburg, and the District of Columbia (Washington DC) has a number of equestrian statues. Some are correct to form, some not so much. Again, consider the source of the money.

The monument to Martin Luther King in Washington DC is an interesting tribute. There is a larger than life statue of the man who stands above the grounds of the park, where there are quotations from the man, selected from probably many of his speeches and moments. Again, the message crafted by the selection of lines from his life have meaning, and were likely chosen with a goal in mind. People have said that each is impressive, if perhaps somewhat sad in a way.