Karl Gruppe 1893-1982
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The Goose Girl, 1917

Karl H. Gruppe was raised in the Netherlands, first studying sculpture in Antwerp at the Royal Academy and later at the Art Students League of New York. His instructor at the League was the Austrian-born Karl Bitter, an adept of the beaux arts tradition. Bitter, who emigrated to the United States in 1889, left his mark on the public statuary of New York in his designs for the doors of Trinity Church and in his initial designs for Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan. When Bitter was killed in a car accident in 1915, he left unfinished his models for the Pullitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza, as well as his design for Henry Hudson Park in the Bronx. Gruppe spent years after his mentor’s death in the Marine Corps (during World War I) and establishing himself as a sculpture in Bitter’s lineage. His brother, Emile Gruppe attained some success as a landscape painter; the two often shared a studio. In the 1930s, Karl H. Gruppe joined the Monument Restoration Project under the Public Works Project, and from 1934-37, he worked on the restoration of the public sculpture of the city. In 1938, Robert Moses revived Gruppe’s teacher’s plans for Henry Hudson Park, and Gruppe was charged with bringing Bitter’s sketches into life as a monumental sculpture. Gruppe performed a similar duty for Bitter’s unrealized designs for the Pulitzer fountain as well.