Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/205
The Monument to General Robert E. Lee. 197
Some discussion now occurred as to whether there should be any competitive exhibition, and, as a compromise, it was decided that if either of the sculptors above mentioned would agree to enter the exhibition, it should be held. Only the younger of the two, Herr Otto, agreed to compete, and he was finally prevented from doing so by illness. Several of the leading sculptors of America, who were invited by special letter to enter the lists, declined, among them our distinguished fellow-townsman, Mr. Valentine.
A satisfactory circular was framed, which was used as an adver- tisement in all the leading art journals of Europe and America. The sums offered for the first and second prizes were put at high figures — $2,000 and $1,000 — in order to tempt into the exhibition the highest talent — great artists, with all the work they want always at command, being naturally averse to run the risk of rejection by a commission of ignorant amateurs. Mr. W. W. Corcoran, being deeply inter- ested in the success of the enterprise, kindly agreed that his art gallery should be named as the building in which the exhibition should be held. In due time the advertising of the competition and the issue of the circulars brought a flood of letters—mostly from abroad — asking for descriptions of the site of the proposed monu- ment, photographs of the General, &c. Church Hill was the site most in favor, and all the models sent were intended for the elevated position they would have occupied if this decision had been adhered to. This fact did not seem to be generally taken into account by the critics who attended the second exhibition. The photographs sent were taken from Elder's portrait in the Corcoran Gallery. Through the kindness of General Custis Lee, photographs of the General's saddle and sword were sent to the artists.
When the models began to arrive it was found that there was not space in the Corcoran Gallery to accommodate them — some twenty in all — and then followed a wearisome search for a hall at reasonable rates. In this search Miss Randolph had the active assistance of Dr. Barbaim, one of the officers of the Corcoran Gallery, who finally secured one. Under his supervision and that of a superintendent for the purpose by the association, the different models were unpacked and placed in position, the hall itself being draped with cheap crimson stuff, that the models might be seen to the best advantage.