Neil Carl Estern
April 18, 1926
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||July 11, 2019 (aged 93)|
|Alma mater||Temple University|
(BFA & BS, education, 1948)
Neil Carl Estern (April 18, 1926 – July 11, 2019) was an American sculptor. Known for his public monuments, Estern's best-known works are his sculptures of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Fala at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington. Estern was also the creator of Patti Playpal.
Neil Carl Estern was born on April 18, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York to Marc J. and Molly (née Sylbert) Estern. He was interested in sculpting from a young age, playing with clay as a child. Raised in Flatbush, he graduated from the High School of Industrial Art. In 1948, Estern graduated from Temple University's Tyler School of Fine Arts with a BS in education and a BFA. He also studied at the Barnes Foundation and spent time at a foundry in Pietrasanta, Italy.
Estern began as a toymaker, developing the Patti Playpal doll for Ideal Toy Company. He modeled the heads and arms, and his wife Anne designed the wardrobes and worked on the overall concepts.
For much of his career, Estern worked out of a studio in Brooklyn Heights, commonly working in bronze. He also created sculptures of Jimmy Carter (Time, August 18, 1980), J. Edgar Hoover (Life, April 9, 1971), and Princess Diana for covers of Time and Life.
His sculpture of John F. Kennedy in Prospect Park was originally erected on May 31, 1965 on a marble base: Estern's first commissioned monument. Robert F. Kennedy officially unveiled the sculpture. Plaza renovations were started in 2002, and the statue was removed later on October 6, 2003. After small tweaks by Estern, it was re-dedicated in 2010, this time on a granite base as originally intended by Estern, who said that "[m]arble is a very soft material, very rarely used for monuments".
Estern designed the medal for the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, first awarded in 1981. The 2.5-inch medal is bronze, with the Great Seal of Wesleyan University on one side and Judge Raymond E. Baldwin on the other.
Perhaps Estern's best-known work is at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which took decades to complete from inception to dedication. After working on them for over a decade, Estern created three sculptures which are in room 3 of the memorial: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Fala. Controversially, the nine-foot-tall President Roosevelt figure is depicted sitting in a wheelchair.
In 2002, the statue of Fiorello H. La Guardia was unveiled in Greenwich Village, New York. Estern had been selected to create the monument years earlier, in 1988. LaGuardia is depicted mid-stride by Estern, who spoke positively about the reception to his choice, saying "I got letters from people in all parts of the country who said, 'That's La Guardia.'" Estern based the work on "many, many still photographs and also the frame-by-frame study of many newsreels".
Estern twice served as president of the National Sculpture Society, once from 1994 to January 1997, and again from 2005 to 2007. He was also a member of the Century Association and the Rembrandt Club.
Personal life and death
In 1948, Estern married Anne Graham; the couple had three children, two sons, Peter Estern and Evan Estern, and a daughter, film director Victoria "Tory" Estern Jadow. The Esterns moved to a four-story townhouse on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights in 1958.
- Bronze relief of Irving Berlin, Music Box Theater, Manhattan, New York; National Portrait Gallery, Washington
- Statue of Fiorello H. La Guardia (2002), Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York
- 100th Anniversary Plaque (bronze) featuring Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux (1966), Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York
- John F. Kennedy Memorial (1965), Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York
- Sculpture of Eleanor Roosevelt, National Cathedral, Washington
- Sculpture of Senator Claude Pepper (2003), Pepper Museum, Tallahassee, Florida
- Expulsion From Paradise (1962), Brooklyn Museum
- Mildred Vincent Prize, National Sculpture Society, 1992
- Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Award (Fiorello H. La Guardia), 1996
- Daniel Chester French Award, National Academy, 1997
- Maynard Award, National Academy, 1999
- Medal of Honor, National Sculpture Society, 2008
- Smook, Diane; Peduzzi, Kelli (1997). Shaping A President: Sculpting For The Roosevelt Memorial. Brookfield: Millbrook Press. ISBN 9780761302070. OCLC 36565900.
- Media related to Neil Estern at Wikimedia Commons
- Frost, Mary (July 17, 2019). "Neil Carl Estern, sculptor of monumental works, dies at 93". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
- "Neil Estern (1926–2019)". National Sculpture Society. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
- Roberts, Sam (July 30, 2019). "Neil Estern, Sculptor of Monumental Public Works, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
- Bush, Daniel (August 24, 2010). "For J.F.K. sculptor, Grand Army Plaza memorial special". Brooklyn Downtown Star. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Kurzweil, Edith (2017). Full Circle: A Memoir. Milton: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781351518383. OCLC 1004191900. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
They didn't grasp that I preferred seeing the friends we had made in Pietrasanta, where American sculptors, among them Neil Estern, Jacques Lipchitz, and Stanley Bleifeld, had worked at a foundry.
- Rosencrantz, Linda (July 1, 2000). "Life-sized dolls 'Ideal' collectibles". NWI Times. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Newman, Barry (November 19, 2008). "Sculptor Wages Long Twilight Struggle to Restore His Bust of JFK". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- US patent 195220, Estern, Anne & Estern, Neil, "Doll or similar article", published May 14, 1963
- "Carter Presidency | August 18, 1980". Time. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "LIFE Apr 9, 1971". Google Books. April 9, 1971. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Kudos and honors – Baldwin Medal". The Middletown Press. June 4, 2004. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Sedgwick Memorials and Grave". Cornwall Historical Society. August 22, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Connecticut's Civil War Monuments: MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL". Connecticut Historical Society. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Parsons, John G. (2012). "The Public Struggle to Erect the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial". Landscape Journal. 31 (1/2): 145–159. doi:10.3368/lj.31.1-2.145. JSTOR 43332535.
- "UP-DATE ON THE NEWS; La Guardia Statue: A Study in Action". The New York Times. January 3, 1988. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
Of course, I feel good about it," Mr. Estern says, claiming an "outpouring" of support for his rendition. "I got letters from people in all parts of the country who said, 'That's La Guardia.'
- "Jonathan Jadow and Victoria Estern". The New York Times. September 17, 1995. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Calderone, Michael (October 31, 2005). "Jon Stewart Inks $4 Million Deal". Observer. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Neuman, William (February 6, 2005). "BIG DEAL; $8.5 Million Brownstone Deal Raises the Bar in Brooklyn". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
Among the homes at the top of the Heights market, one of the more interesting is 82 Remsen, which is owned by the sculptor Neil Estern. It is 37 1/2 feet wide and sits on a 150-foot lot with a carriage house at the back end, on Grace Court Alley. Its real estate broker, Kevin J. Carberry, said the four-story main house, which was built in 1837, contains about 10,000 square feet, divided between two apartments. Among other works, Mr. Estern is known for his bronze sculpture of the seated President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington.
- ""Say It With Music": Irving Berlin Is Honored at the Music Box Theatre". Rodgers & Hammerstein. January 1, 1995.
Instead, the Berlin family commissioned the creation of a bronze plaque that now resides permanently in the street-level public lobby of the theatre. Modelled by the distinguished American sculptor Neil Estern, the image of Irving Berlin in profile was cast in bronze at the Tallix Arts Foundry in Beacon, New York.
- "Irving Berlin". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Fiorello La Guardia Statue". NYC Parks. December 20, 2001. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Prospect Park: 100th Anniversary Plaque". NYC Parks. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Estern is sculptor" (PDF). Pulse. Florida Health Care Association. January 2004. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Calloway, Shannon (2006). "The Claude Pepper Center". Exploring FSU's Past. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "Expulsion from Paradise". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved August 1, 2019.