The Indian Hunter: a Statue with a Very Personal Meaning
John Quincy Adams Ward’s various statues in the park (the Indian Hunter, Shakespeare, 7th Infantry Regiment, and the Pilgrim) all share one distinct characteristic: a marked realism that stands in sharp contrast with the more idealized, Europeanized work of his predecessors.
In the early part of the 18th century, American art sought its own form of expression that reflected American values. Painters found it in the beauty of the land. Sculptors found it in realism. However, the Indian Hunter statue (east 66th Street, just west of the Mall) contained an added dimension of realism: Ward’s great uncle was abducted by the Shawnee in 1758, while Ward’s great grandfather never gave up trying to contact his lost brother, John, who was killed by the tribe when he tried to make contact with his white family.
Perhaps this is the reason why this statue is shown searching for something, and might also explain why Ward requested that a copy of the statue be placed on his grave. Perhaps he wanted to offer his great uncle (and namesake) a final resting place too.
Such anecdotal history wasn’t something a writer like myself could easily pass up, so I have Christopher Middleton, the main character in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, meet a fictitious John Ward who is looking to make contact with his brother in the wilderness.