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Nathan Hale

1890 Frederick MacMonnies Born: New York, New York 1863 Died: New York, New York 1937 bronze 28 1/4 x 9 3/4 x 6 1/4 in. (71.9 x 24.7 x 15.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum in honor of George Gurney, Curator Emeritus 2012.5 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing

Luce Center Quote

"I wanted to make something that would set the bootblacks and little clerks around here thinking, something that would make them want to be somebody and find life worth living." The artist, quoted in The Art Commission and the Municipal Art Society Guide to Manhattan's Outdoor Sculpture, May 1888

Luce Center Label

Nathan Hale (17551776), a teacher from Connecticut, fought for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The British hanged the twenty-one-year-old soldier as a spy after he had infiltrated their lines in New York. Just before his death, Hale allegedly uttered the now famous words: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Frederick MacMonnies portrayed Hale as a young American martyr. He stands with his shoulders thrust back and his head lifted slightly, even though his feet and arms are bound with rope. The sculpture’s rough surface and lack of finish originally drew criticism but reflected MacMonnies's formal training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His original nine-foot-high bronze sculpture of Hale was erected at City Hall Park in New York in 1893, where it stands today. This smaller sculpture is one of several models that MacMonnies produced.


History - United States - Revolution

Occupation - military - soldier

Portrait male - Hale, Nathan - full length


metal - bronze

metal - bronze

About Frederick MacMonnies

Born: New York, New York 1863 Died: New York, New York 1937

More works in the collection by
Frederick MacMonnies