Organizations* : ANA, NIAL, NSS
A sculptor known for his monuments, including buffaloes and Indians, Henry Shrady was born, and died, in New York City. The son of a surgeon, he originally planned to practice law, but was prevented by illness, although he studied at Columbia until 1895.
Leaving Columbia, Shrady entered a match business, which failed in 1900. That same year, at 29, he began sketching and painting. At that time self-taught, his first painting was exhibited by the National Academy of Design and sold. Shrady spent time at the zoo, observing and sketching the animals. It was there that the sculptor Carl Bitter noticed the young artist working, and offered him studio space.
Shrady learned to sculpt from Bitter, and his small animal bronzes sold commercially, bringing him the attention of the public. Those small bronzes also led him to be commissioned the following year, 1901, to sculpt an equestrian statue of George Washington for the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City. That same year, two of his bronzes, a moose and a buffalo, were exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition, and he also sculpted a panel of Indians for a monument.
In 1902, Shrady was awarded the $250,000 commission for what became his life work, the Grant Memorial in Washington, D.C. Shrady spent the last twenty years of his life modeling this cavalry charge on a 252-foot marble platform. This commission came to the artist just two years after he began his artistic career, and “It is believed that the Grant Monument commission was awarded to the unknown Shrady amid much politicking to prevent Niehaus from getting it.”
Shrady’s successful career as an artist, though largely untrained, was attributed to his background: “As the son of a surgeon, he easily assimilated the truth of anatomy.” Rilla Evelyn Jackman, American Arts.
Reference: The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, by Peggy and Harold Samuels