Eagles and Goat Statue
New York, New York
Central Park attracts millions of New Yorkers to the urban oasis within its bucolic borders, inspiring contemplation of a peaceful and picturesque landscape... that is, until one comes upon the "Eagles and Prey" statue by Christophe Fratin and is reminded that nature is often violent, horrifying and downright gory.
This tribute to the "circle of life" depicts two victorious, wing-flapping eagles tearing into the guts of a dying goat. The triumphant birds obviously have no qualms about ganging up on their victim, whose pleading expression is heartbreaking in its helplessness.
The artist Fratin was the son of a taxidermist; this may explain his intense interest in, and finesse with, animal anatomy (Not all of his works are as gruesome as this one; he was also known for sculpting dancing bears.).
This is the oldest known sculpture in any New York City park. It was cast in 1850 in Paris and donated to the park in 1863 by Gordon Webster Burnham. The gift of a bronze statue was totally appropriate, as Burnham made most of his money manufacturing bronze buttons, pins and other essential but everyday metal goods.
Although it's far less famous than Bowling Green's well-rubbed "Charging Bull," we think that "Eagles and Prey" may be an even more apt 3-D metaphor for Manhattan's fiercely competitive and unforgiving commercial culture. After making it through yet another rough day in this "dog eat dog city" (or is it "eagle eat goat?") we look into those sadly sculpted mammalian eyes and feel a kinship with the raptors' snack.