About George H. Snowden
Having won the most prestigious art prize of his time, the 1927 American Prix de Rome, George Holburn Snowden returned to America to forge an extraordinary sculpture career that spanned across six phases over most of the 20th century.
Educated at Yale University by the Rodin specialist, Robert Eberhard, Snowden realized a momentous career beginning in 1926, when he was appointed an instructor of sculpture at Yale before his graduation.
While Snowden’s career as a sculpture professor at Yale spanned fifteen years, his work moved into a monumental calling as he carried out massive projects of the Works Progress Administration of the 1930’s. As a result of his stylistic developments that he incorporated into his 30 foot public sculpture, Snowden influenced a generation of figurative artists as well as the commissioning boards of the WPA during the Great Depression. Snowden’s sculpture remains permanently situated in the Federal Triangle in Washington, D.C.
On his return from Rome, the sculptor moved into a third phase of his career, where he carried out a number of significant private and public non-governmental commissions. Working in America and in Europe, Snowden completed the Lowrei Memorial in Rome and the Yale Memorial in Pershing Hall in Paris. Snowden’s commissions of the 1930’s culminated in his 30 foot triad, the “Labors of Man” for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
With the coming of World War II, Snowden moved to southern California. There, his genius touched the west coast with an impressive oeuvre of numerous influential church commissions. In the fourth phase of his career, he became the pre-eminent ecclesiastical sculptor in America, His numerous works are perhaps best represented in his creation of the Main Altar and exterior carved programs for the largest religious edifice in North America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC.
Continuing to reside in California, Snowden moved forward into the distinguished film phase of his career. He worked with Cecil B. De Mille on The Ten Commandments and created a range sculpture that remains documented in classic motion pictures. His sculptural programs graced the Robe, the Barefoot Contessa, The Yearling,. and other films. Now considered the stuff of legend, Snowden sculpted the entire Circus Maximus for the movie, Ben Hur.
On the West Coast, Snowden accepted Walt Disney’s invitation to create sculpture for Epcot and experimental theme parks, where his works remain icons of popular culture to this day. In retrospect across the trajectory of his career, Snowden was deeply involved in shaping an eloquent sculptural language, capable of communicating across time and space. His was an art of exquisite workmanship and devotion to craft that was imbued with timeless mastery. His touch remains luminous in every work that bears his signature.
“Returning from the 1927 Prix de Rome and on through the 1930’s, George Snowden’s rare talent became a significant force in American sculpture. Raised from the streets of the industrial east coast, Snowden countered his environment through a new type of aesthetic sculpture built on monumental strength and timeless beauty. He left behind his Yale education linked to Rodin in order to meld wide ranging cultural impulses within his own imaginative vision. Experimenting across a range of private experimental works, he returned to America in 1930 where he forged a new kind of public sculpture. His architectonic vision rose to influence the spectrum of sculpture commissioned by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, where George Snowden remains a central father of the American Arc-Modernist movement.” Dr. Marie Busco