By Anne Leader
Italian-American sculptor Attilio Piccirilli was born on 16 May 1866 in Massa Carrara. Attilio and his five brothers trained in their father’s workshop, until in 1887, together with his younger brother Furio, Attilio left Italy in search of work, moving first to England and then America. Upon arrival, the brothers only had enough money for one meal. Despite a difficult start, they eventually found work at the Perth Amboy Terracotta Company designing ornaments and with Adler’s Monuments carving tombstones. They were able to establish their own company in 1889 in Manhattan, later moving to the Bronx. Eventually the rest of Attillo’s brothers joined him in America.
The Piccirilli brothers found success working as stonecarvers for numerous sculptors and architectural firms. Their many projects included most of the statuary on the facade of the Brooklyn Museum, sculpture for several state capitols including Harrisburg, PA and Madison Wisconsin, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC for which they used 175 tons of marble. Another favorite is the pair of large lions standing guard at the New York Public Library. Attilio also made a number of solo works, including the Maine Monument on Columbus Circle and the Policeman’s Memorial on Riverside Drive.
Attilio Picirilli died in New York on 8 October 1945.
Further reading: Freeing the Angel from the Stone A Guide to Piccirilli Sculpture in New York City by Jerry and Eleanor Koffler (2008)
Brooklyn Museum of Art
State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin
Firemen’s Memorial, Riverside Drive, New York
Maine Memorial, Columbus Circle, New York
Fragilina, 1923, marble, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1926.