Frederick Charles Shrady (1907-1990)
An accomplished sculptor, Frederick Charles Shrady was born in East View, New York on October 22, 1907. His early life was spent in Westchester County, New York before attending The Choate School, a highly regarded boarding school in Connecticut. He studied painting and drawing at the Art Students League of New York and the Ecole d’art d’Orleans in Orleans, France, and undertook an apprenticeship under Japanese painter Yasushi Tanaka in Paris. At New College, Oxford University, he studied the history of art and architecture. His extensive travels throughout Europe took him to Germany, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, and Albania. In 1931 he moved to Paris to paint full time. Living in the Montparnasse district, Shrady found himself at the epicenter of the avant-garde. His neighbors included the artists Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Henri Matisse, and his own mentor, Andre Derain. Before he turned thirty-three, he had been featured in solo exhibitions across the globe, including Dublin, Paris, Belgrade, London, and New York.
Shrady’s already impressive career as an artist was placed on hold with his enlistment in the U.S. Army in June 1943. In July he was appointed the head of the Fine Arts Department at Camp Upton in New York. In addition to a brief assignment with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, D.C., Shrady served with the Model Making Detachment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Due to his fluency in French, he was selected as a liaison officer to the Free French Forces.
In August 1944 Shrady applied for an assignment with the MFAA. He was eventually attached to U.S. Third Army in Germany. In June 1945 he assisted Monuments Men Lt. Cdr. Thomas Howe, Jr., Lt. Cdr. George Stout, Lt. Stephen Kovalyak, and Lt. Lamont Moore with the evacuation of the mine at Altaussee, Austria. Together, they carefully packed Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna, Vermeer’s The Artist’s Studio, and the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck. Shrady and the Monuments Men evacuated these great works of art, along with over 15,000 other works of art and cultural objects, to the Munich Central Collecting Point. In the following months, Shrady conducted inspections of churches, castles, and museums in Wiesbaden, Germany. While serving in Vienna, Austria, he met his wife, Maria Louise Likar-Waltersdorff, who was an interpreter for the MFAA. They married in 1946.
Following his return to the United States, Shrady abandoned painting to focus exclusively on sculpture. Such a shift was partly due to his conversion to Catholicism in 1948. His first sculpture, Head of Father Martin D'Arcy, was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other religious subjects include St. Francis (Fairfield University), Joan of Arc (Pittsburgh Cathedral), St. Peter Casting his Net (Fordham University), Descent from the Cross (St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria), and Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City). In 1982 Shrady became the first American artist to be commissioned by a pope. His 12-foot marble statue, Our Lady of Fatima, was presented to Pope John Paul II and resides in the Vatican Gardens. While he was best known for his religious sculptures, Shrady was also commissioned for secular works. His sweeping, 15-foot bronze sculpture outside FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. is engraved with the mantra, “Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity.”
In the final days of his life, Shrady continued to sculpt at his studio on a 140-acre estate formerly owned by the novelist Edna Ferber. At the time he lost his battle with cancer, he was in the process of completing a bust of poet and Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Frederick Shrady died in Greenwich, Connecticut on January 20, 1990.