Dr. Avard Tennyson Fairbanks
Born: March 2, 1897 - Died: January 1, 1987
Sculptor of the Albert Woolson Statue, Gettysburg PA.
Avard Tennyson Fairbanks was born in Provo Utah in 1897. The son of John B. Fairbanks a well known artist, Avard will continue the family legacy as a prolific sculptor. With the death of his mother Lilly when he was only about a year old, and his father busy providing for his family Avard’s brother J. Leo Fairbanks will manage the family.
At the age of 12, Avard showed interest in sculpting. With the guidance of J. Leo, Avard’s first work was a clay model of a rabbit. This model would win first prize in the State Fair. At the age of 13, Avard would follow his father to New York City. Modeling animals from the Bronx Zoological Gardens and showing a natural talent for sculpting, Avard would be awarded scholarships to study at the Arts Students League at New York. During this time Avard would become personally acquainted with several notable sculptors. These included Cyrus E. Dallin (sculptor of the Winfield Scott Hancock on the Pennsylvania Memorial) and Lorado Taft (sculptor of the 3rd, 4th Michigan Infantry Monuments and the Michigan “Custer” Memorial). In 1913 Avard would move to Paris to study at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts. While in Paris he would also study at the Ecole de la Grande Chaumiere and other noted schools.
Today, Fairbanks is considered one of the most distinguished sculptors in America. His statues have been erected around the world. Throughout the United States, Fairbanks is particularly well known for his Lincoln monuments. Four of his works are on permanent display in the U.S. Capitol Building’s statuary hall as well as four marble busts of Lincoln located in Ford Theater, Washington DC.
Fairbanks would sit with Albert Woolson, and while in conversation with the last veteran of the G.A.R. , model in clay the likeness of Woolson we now see on the monument at Gettysburg. Next time you’re in Gettysburg, stop and study the wonderful work of Dr. Avard Fairbanks
Vintage photo taken September 12, 1956 at the dedication event in Gettysburg. To the left of the photo is Miss Celeste Gentieu of the Woman's Auxiliary and chairman of the G.A.R. Memorial Fund she is beside the sculptor, Avard Fairbanks.
Fairbanks signed the clay model of the Gettysburg Woolson in 1955.
Above is an original autograph of Avard Fairbanks. Note the "F" in Fairbanks and its similarity to the bronze statue signature.
Ribbon given to attendees for the dedication event at Gettysburg.
Close-up view of the pin showing the Woolson statue.
Fairbanks had a very good idea of what a member of the G.A.R. would be wearing when attending an event. Note the 5 pointed star / ribbon of the G.A.R. medal as well as the bronze lapel pin with the G.A.R. logo. (See example of the lapel pin below.)
Original bronze G.A.R. veteran's lapel pin. Note how Fairbanks has included this on "Woolson's" coat.(approx 16 mm in Dia.)These lapel pins were often made from melted down southern bronze cannon.
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