Robert E. Lee “The Marble Man” in Bronze
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This handsome bronze bust is from the original terra cotta design, sculpted by Volck from life. Rests on an octagonal base atop black marble. The front is titled “Robert E. Lee” and an inscription on the base reads “Frederick Volck, 1863, Richmond, VA.” [ROBERT E. LEE].
Bronze Bust, by Frederick Volck. Richmond, VA. 1863. 19” tall, approximately 50 pounds.
In defeat and especially in death, Robert E. Lee was enshrined by postwar southern writers as the hero of the “lost cause,” a “marble man” with few imperfections who carried the South, despite overwhelming disparities in men, money, and materiel, to the brink of victory. After the war, Lee’s former artillery chief, William Pendleton, was the rector of Grace Church in Lexington, Virginia, when Lee was president of Washington College. After Lee’s death, Pendleton spearheaded a fundraising campaign to create a mausoleum for the Lee family in Lexington and to commission Edward Valentine’s marble statue, “Recumbent Lee,” completed in 1875. Pendleton and other ex-Confederates emphasized Lee’s Christian, chivalric, and martial virtues, almost to the exclusion of any faults, and stripped him of any responsibility for the failure of the Confederacy.
Frederick Volck (1833-1891), a native of Nuremburg, Germany, emigrated to Richmond, Virginia, and was later employed in the Confederate Naval Ordnance Department. Volck executed a statue of Lee and a statue of Lee and his horse Traveller in 1863. He is also remembered for his busts of Jefferson Davis and “Stonewall” Jackson, and an example of the later remains in the dining room of the Confederate White House in Richmond.