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Who Is That Man, Anyway?
Subject: George Washington
Sculptor: Herbert Haseltine
Location: National Cathedral
( Cathedral Drive & Wisconsin Ave. )
Yet another memorial to George Washington (1732-1799), he is depicted here on his way to church, riding the famous race horse, Man O' War. The donor, James Sheldon, wrote in his will that he would provide the money to build the central tower at the Cathedral on the condition that they also place an equestrian statue of Washington at the west entrance to the Cathedral. He further specified that the horse be Man O' War.
After considerable negotiation, Sheldon agreed that the statue could be placed a short distance from the west entrance.
Unbeknownst to the Cathedral authorities, the sculptor had gilded the statue with gold leaf. When the Cathedral authorities objected, the sculptor threatened to sue if they tried to remove the gilding.
After many years passed, the graduating classes from St. Albans School decided to paint the belly and legs of the horse red as a prank. When the paint was removed each time, a little more gilding came off with it.
Finally, since the sculptor had long since died, the Building Committee authorized the removal of the gilding.
Photos and text copyright © 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved
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