New York
New York  Art at Site Frederick MacMonnies Stanford White  longdesc=

Frederick MacMonnies

Stanford White
City Hall Park
MacMonnies' Nathan Hale is a reminder not of what the Founding Fathers stood for, but of how they stood for it. Contemplating this statue does not reveal the nature of man or how to form and maintain a proper system of government: instead, it shows a man certain that his values are worth defending, to the death if necessary.
Hale stands very upright, shoulders back: proud, but also tense. The long, vertical lines of his coat and the snugness of his vest and pants emphasize how tall and slender he is. His hands gesture - he has just finished speaking his famous words, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." His chin is lifted, another indication of pride. But he frowns slightly and turns his head aside, eyelids lowered as if in disdain. A closer look at the figure explains why.
No eighteenth-century gentleman would willingly have appeared in public with his shirt in such disarray. It appears to have been torn, and makes Hale's neck exposed and vulnerable - a vulnerability emphasized by the high coat collar that frames his neck. Ropes unobtrusively circle his ankles; walking around the statue, one sees that his elbows are also bound, by a rope that stretches behind his back. Nathan Hale is a captive, about to be hanged. The disdain on his face is for his captors and his fate.