The Falconer sculpture

The Falconer sculpture, George Blackall Simonds, public art, Central Park, New york

Public Art: The Falconer sculpture

Sculptor: © George Blackall Simonds (6th October 1843 – 16th December 1929)

Description: The 12ft bronze Falconer sculpture depicts a falconer in Elizabethan attire as his bird rests on his left hand in preparation to take flight. The falconer holds the bird hood in his the right hand having just  removed it from the bird’s head.  The man stands entirely on the right foot, as he prepares to let his bird of prey fly.

Cast by : Chevalier Clemente Pape, Florence, Italy

Date Unveiled: The Falconer was cast  in Florence, Italy in 1871 and later erected in Central Park May 31st, 1875.


A Victim of Vandalism : It is not suprising that The Falconer sculpture has been the target of vandals throughout the years. By 1957 the falcon had vanished (thanks to a vandals saw) and the poor old falconer was looking rather poorly. Parks replaced the bird and repatined the sculpture but the falcon soon disappeared once again.

In 1977 the third falcon had vanished and so too the falconer's arm. Parks decided to place the sculpture in storage until it could be repaired once again. In 1982 it resurfaced in Central Park , this time with a different modeled falcon. 1995 was the last time it was repatined.

Trivia: Simonds, who was himself an avid falconer, was critised for having the falconer depicted in theatrical Elizabethan dress.

Simond's original sculpture of the Falconer was of a smaller scale when shown at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1875. It was there that a wealthy Irish merchant, George Kemp, living in New York spied the sculpture and was so impressed he commissioned Simmonds to create a full scale replica for Central park.

It seems George Kemp was not the only man enamoured with the statue. A second casting of The Falconer was requested by a Mr Robert Evans who, while recovering in a hospital near Central park, fell in love with it. After seeking permission for a bronze replica to be made it was erected in Lynch Park in Beverly, Massachusetts.

When the statue was first erected in Central Park it was placed high on a mound, spoiling the expression that Simonds had created on the falconer's face. The local newspaper reponded with  “The statue should most certainly have been placed at least fifteen feet lower than it is.” By the 1930s the statue was ready to topple.

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