Born in 1871, Henry Merwin Shrady, the son of a successful and well-known physician, was two years into his training to become a lawyer when an onset of typhoid fever caused his withdrawal. During the years of his convalescence he took up drawing and watercolor, concentrating on household pets and the animals he observed first hand at the Bronx Zoo. An early equestrian group, Artillery Going Into Action, 1898-99, caught the attention of New York jeweler and bronze founder Theodore B. Starr and of American sculptor Karl Bitter who encouraged Shrady to enlarge his models Monarch of the Plains, 1899, and Bull Moose for inclusion in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo NY. Both models were among the earliest examples cast by the lost wax casting process, a process pioneered at Roman Bronze Works, New York, just a decade earlier., Impressed by the superb modeling and quality of casting, Frederick Remington (1861-1909) sought to utilize the new process himself, casting his own model The Northerner, at Roman Bronze Works in 1900 and henceforth cast exclusively in lost wax for the remainder of his career.
Shrady’s first major commission, an equestrian statue of George Washington at Valley Forge, 1901, for Brooklyn’s Continental Army Plaza, won him high praise among America’s most notable sculptors including Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial. Other major commissions followed including the General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington DC.
Henry Merwin Shrady’s early studies into biology and anatomy and his intimate knowledge of the musculature of horses, coupled with a concentration on the academic study of equine anatomy, quickly catapulted him to become one of America’s finest animalier sculptors.