General Robert Edward Lee Bronze equestrian statue atop the Virgina Memorial.
The bronze equestrian of General Lee atop the Virginia Memorial is considered one of the finest examples done of the revered southern leader. The statue depicts General Lee astride Traveller his most famous horse used in the Civil War and is located along West Confederate Avenue.
The statue faces east and Lee appears to be looking towards the Northern Battleline along Cemetery Ridge.
The bronze statue appears to be very similar to a photograph taken of Lee on Traveller during the Civil War.
Lee would purchase Traveller in 1862 for $200.00. Lee would describe Traveller to Mrs. Lee's cousin Markie Williams when she asked to paint a portrait of the General's horse. Lee would write: If I was an artist like you, I would draw a true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold: and the dangers and sufferings through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night marches and days of battle through which he passed. But I am no artist Markie, and can therefore only say he is a Confederate gray."
I can only imagine that Siever's would use this description as well as the above photograph in his depiction of Lee and Traveller.
When Sievers is presented the commission for the Virginia Memorial and because he wanted his depiction of Traveller to be perfect, he would have the bones of Traveler who had died in May, 1871 and then on display in Lexington Virginia, measured. Siever's then would use these measurements to find a perfectly sized horse to represent Traveller for his clay model. Upon selection this horse would then be used by Siever's to attain the perfect proportions we see today. One of the details Sievers included on Traveller is that the ears appear "perked" forward as if listening to the sound of a distant battle.
Traveller, horse of General Lee
The bronze of General Robert E. Lee atop the Virginia Memorial.
A confident but calm Lee gazes towards the Northern Line on Cemetery Ridge.
Using photographs and most likley a plaster life mask cast of the General's face in 1869, Sievers created a nearly exact likeness of General Lee .
General Lee with hat in hand.
The detail sculpted into the monument by Sievers gives it a life like depiction. Although the monument is larger than life size (14 feet from base to top of head) the proportions are nearly perfect.
One small defect that can be observe on the monument is that when the bronze components were welded after casting, a small seam can still be seen where the upper portion of the leg meets the torso of the horse. Look carefully at the above photo and a horizontal seam can be seen.
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