Monumental sculpture is one of the richest Western artistic traditions. Sculpture has been used to depict both heroic personal and national qualities, such as valor, sacrifice, honor, and devotion. Sculpture has also been used to express abstract ideas about government, nationalism, and historical destiny. To do so, sculptors have used a rich artistic vocabulary that has developed since the ancient world. Most of us have some familiarity with these artistic conventions, in part because we periodically encounter statues of generals on horses and other traditional forms. But many of us need help to recognize and understand fully all of the symbolic and aesthetic choices that the planners and creators incorporated into specific monumental sculptures. Simply put, we need help "reading" monuments.
The Annotated Greene Monument. This narrated tour enables us to closely analyze the Nathanael Greene Monument at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, one of the most impressive and symbolically rich commemorative sculptures in North Carolina. At first glance, it may appear to be just another large and impressive but otherwise conventional "general on a horse" sculpture. With the aid of art historian Tania String, we can tour the monument and get a fuller understanding of the symbols and artistry that the sculptor and creators used to convey its meaning.