The Triumph of Civic Virtue, a Frederick MacMonnies-designed statue in Queens featuring the manly Civic Virtue triumphing/squashing the sirens of Vice and Corruption, is quietly being moved by the city to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn–but the “why” remains unclear. Here are possible reasons this controversial circa-1922 landmark is being moved:
1. You can’t really show men trampling women these days and get away with it–it’ll be easy to lose The Triumph amongst Green-Wood’s 478 acres.
2. Horace Greeley (founder of the New York Tribune) and Henry Jarvis Raymond (founder of the New York Times), both of whom are buried in Green-Wood, believe in the eventual victory of Civic Virtue over Vice and Corruption. As journalists, they enjoyed a good metaphor and wouldn’t have believed that the statue was sexist.
3. The more effete citizens around Green-Wood (e.g. Park Slopers) will get the “complicated symbolism” of the statue that totally isn’t sexist, guys:
“Because female serpentine figures are used to symbolize civic vice, the statue is criticized, incorrectly, for portraying women as evil. Symbolism is not so cut and dried. The symbol for the American Medical Association includes a snake. That is not meant to suggest that snakes are good for your health. Paintings of Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge frequently depict the forbidden fruit as an apple. No one takes that as a slam against apples.”
4. “Members of the MacMonnies family are buried at the cemetery, though the sculptor himself is interred at another location. Sources said there has been talk of possibly moving his remains to the family plot to be near the statue.”
(Photo: Paul Lowry/Flickr)