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Who Is That Man, Anyway?
Subject: Andrew Mellon
Sculptor: Sidney Waugh
Location: Federal Triangle
( Constitution Ave. & Pennsylvania Ave. )
Andrew Mellon (1855-1937) served the United States in a wide variety of ways. He was a banker and financier and organizer of many of the largest companies still in existence. He served for eleven years as Secretary of the Treasury and was, for a while, Ambassador to Great Britain.
Born into a wealthy family, Mellon made the 'Grand Tour' of Europe as a young man and found that other countries had wonderful art galleries. He decided that it was time that the United States had a national art gallery and began to purchase excellent old paintings with his own funds. When he had acquired 128 paintings, he presented them, along with the money to build a place to house them, to the United States.
The building he funded, the National Gallery of Art -- West Building -- was too large for his collection of paintings, but Mellon believed that other collectors would give art to the United States once the Gallery was established. With great foresight, he reserved the plot of land just east of the National Gallery for future expansion.
Sure enough, in thirty years, the National Gallery collection outgrew the West Building and the East Building was built. The East Building was funded by Andrew's children. All of the Mellons attached a condition to their gifts: that the buildings not be named after them.
The Mellon Memorial Fountain is located opposite the West Building and is sometimes called the "Zodiac Fountain" because the signs of the Zodiac appear around the lower portion of the fountain.
Photos and text copyright © 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved
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