Samuel Aloysius Murray the Sculptor of the
Father William Corby Portrait Statue
Samuel A. Murray
Sculptor of the Father Corby Statue
1869 - 1941
Samuel Murray was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the son of an Irish stone cutter. At the age of 17 he was a student of the Art Students League of Philadelphia where he studied under the famous painter Thomas Eakins. Under Eakins guidance and friendship Murray, at the age of 21, would become an instructor of life modeling at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. Murray would spend the late 1890’s and early 20th Century sculpting various subjects including ten large statues of Biblical prophets. Murray would create various other works but one of his most ambitious was the sculpting of the Goddess of Victory and Peace atop the Pennsylvania State Memorial at Gettysburg. The Pennsylvania State Memorial and its bronze statues will be covered in a future posting.
Dedication Day of the Father Corby Statue
On the morning of October 29, 1910 several hundred people attended mass at St. Francis Xavier Church in Gettysburg. At 1:30 in the afternoon the church bell began to ring and at 2:00 the procession made its way to the monument which was then covered by an American Flag. After several musical selections were played by the Gettysburg Band and several addresses, Miss Bernadette Daily (seen in the above photo wrapped in the flag) was called upon to unveil the monument. Upon pulling a silken cord, the Stars and Stripes which enfolded the statue slowly fell, disclosing the simple and stately monument. The Catholic Standard and Times would comment in regards to the site selected for the statue "it is most advantageous. A natural pedestal for the statue-similar to the one on which the heroic Chaplain stood upon the memorable July day rises some three feet or more above sod.”
Father William Corby
Father Corby as sculpted by Murray is a nearly perfect likeness.
An identical statue of Corby stands at Notre Dame University where he would serve as President of the University. Corby Hall on the campus is named for him.
A photo of the monument taken soon after the dedication. Note the lack of trees and underbrush in the background.
The sculptor has neatly incised his name in the base of the monument.
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