Philip Martiny (1858 - 1927 )

Philip Martiny, born in Alsace, France on May 10, 1858, was a descendant of the Italian gothic artist Simone Martini. Philip Martiny came to the United States in 1876 at the age of twenty to avoid service in the military. He stayed here for the rest of his life. For the majority of his career he kept a small studio in Greenwich Village in the lower part of Manhattan.(1)

Upon his arrival in the United States he studied with Augustus St. Gaudens and Frederick MacMonnies, both leading Beaux-Arts sculptors of their time. He became an Associate of the National Academy in 1902. His architectural work includes the doors of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City and “Winged Life,” 1893, above the doorway of the Herald Square Hotel on West 31st Street.(2) This baby-like winged cherub has become the insignia of generations and its figure has been recreated many times. “Winged Life” still graces the entry of 19 West 31st Street a hundred years later. Its likeness was reproduced in or on thousands of issues of Life Magazine. It has been the subject of many essays, photographs, postcards and souvenirs.(3)

Martiny also decorated the cornices and facades of the Agricultural Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. He “proved that wealth and grandeur of sculpture can be attained by the duplication of ideas in similar architectural positions, for although all his important groups appear several times on the fronts of Agricultural Hall, yet the very unity of appearance assures the observer that sculpture was here used in its true, subordinated relation - that is, it was the Agricultural temple as a whole which was to be admired.”(4)

Martiny’s sculptures include the Soldiers and Sailor Monument in Jersey City, New Jersey and the McKinley Monument in Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, his work was exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 and the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904.(5)

Martiny lived, with his family, in Flushing, a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City, until his death June 26, 1927. A first stroke had ended his career; a second one ended his life. When he died he left behind his second wife and eight children.(6)

(Nicole Chillemi, Spring 2006)

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, 1899, City Hall, Jersey City. Photograph by Anthony Olszewski, c.2001. Used with permission of the photographer (see jclandmarks link below).

Life (also called Winged Life), 1893-94, located over entrance to Herald Square Hotel, 19 West 31st Street, New York City. Photo source:

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Jersey City was dedicated to veterans from Hudson County on Memorial Day 1899.(7) The statue depicts a mythological victory figure. Martiny chose a female figure to honor those who served their country. A "goddess of peace," with a laurel wreath in her right hand, she sits atop a grand engraved granite pedestal eleven feet tall. As if exhausted by a great travail, she is in a seated pose. A shield is off to the side, yet one hand still rests in readiness on a sword. Victory holds high not the head of a vanquished foe, but, rather, an olive branch of peace.(8)

The inscription on the front of the memorial reads: "Erected by the people of Hudson County to commemorate the soldiers and sailors who fought in the War of the Rebellion."(9)



(1, 3, 6) Herald Square Hotel website (see link below).

(2, 5) Falk, Peter H. Who was Who in American Art. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press. 1985. P. 399

(4) World’s Columbian Exhibition (see “columbus” link below).

(7, 9)

(8) Jersey City Landmarks website (see link below).

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