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Mother and Child


"Duty and Sacrifice" (1913) in Riverside Drive, NY, is widely regarded as one of the most noteworthy monuments in New York. Facing west toward the Hudson, the structure's details are best appreciated before sunset. The large bronze plate and allegorical figures on either side, by Attilio Piccirilli, pay homage to firefighters. "Sacrifice," the northside sculpture, depicts a female figure cradling the lifeless body of a man who served his community—a Pieta-like composition with the mother-wife's gaze turned elsewhere, subtly deflecting the notion of faithful resignation.

On the south side, a sculpture resonates as part of a series exploring the relationship between the mother and fatherless child. Drawing parallels between this design at the Fireman’s Memorial, the mother and child at the US Maine Memorial, and both mother and child monuments at Woodlawn, it becomes clear that these works, intended for placement on Attilio's mother's gravesite, share a common thread. Influenced by the recent passing of my father and my mother's lack of empathy, I perceive the absence of the father figure as the defining element that renders these monuments a unique chapter in Attilio Piccirilli’s journey in public art.

The Italian Factor
Attilio Piccirilli drawing a memorial to Fiorello La Guardia’s wife and daughter

The First Steps, (1917), Woodlawn, NY. The bass relief is created for Mayor La Guardia’s first wife and child, in which the mother invites the child to walk forward. It is the portrait of a tragedy that took both lives within a few weeks of each other, as if one was following the other to her death. 

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