Pietro Montana was born in Alcamo, Italy, on June 29, 1890. His family moved to the United States when he was a child and settled in Brooklyn. Pietro Montana studied at the Cooper Union Art School, where he graduated in 1915, and received additional instruction at the Mechanics Institute. He worked as a sculptor, painter and teacher. In the early 1920s, Montana sculpted three public monuments in Brooklyn: Freedom Square Memorial (1921), Dawn of Glory (1924) in Highland Park, and Bushwick-Ridgewood War Memorial (1921) installed in Heisser Square.
Montana completed a bronze tablet (1925) with relief portraits of authors Washington Irving (1783–1859) and Mark Twain (1835–1910), which today is affixed to the north wall of 11 Fifth Avenue (the Brevoort) at the south-east corner of 5 Avenue and 9th Street. Montana also created a doughboy figure for East Providence, Rhode Island, a portrait of Mother Davison for Governors Island, and a relief plaque of Catherine Carroll installed at Metropolitan Pool in Brooklyn. He also has a work in St. Anthony’s shrine in Boston and sculptures of four saints for the Shrine of The Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. He also sculpted the Stations of the Cross in the Fordham University Chapel. The 14 pieces are hand carved by Pietro from white oak.
The National Gallery of Art has on display the Saint Francis of Assisi medallion that Montana created. You can view the medallion here. He made several medallions for the Franklin Mint.
In the 1920s, with the help of the fraternal organization, Ordine Figli D’Italia, Montana helped form a society of Italian-American artists, which launched the Leonardo da Vinci School of Art on the Bowery.
Pietro Montana had studios at several locations in lower Manhattan and mid-town, while residing in a three-family home he owned on Kossuth Place in Brooklyn. During his career he received numerous public and private commissions, including a bust of the inventor Marconi for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In 1962, Pietro Montana and his wife Alfrida Kramer moved to Italy, where they lived part time. They also kept a residence on Long Island, NY. He passed away in Glen Cove, Long Island in 1978. He is buried in Italy.
The Cooper Hewitt Museum has six drawings by Pietro Montana all dated 1910 that once were part of the Cooper Union Art Museum. They can be viewed here.
Pietro Montana received the Daniel Chester French Medal for Religious Sculpture, the Allied Artists of America Award, the Medal of Honor of the Catholic Fine Arts Society and the award of the National Academy of Design. He is honored by The Cooper Union through the Pietro & Alfrieda Montana Prize, for excellence in drawing and
sculpture which is awarded annually by the School of Art.
- Heisser Triangle Highlights – Bushwick-Ridgewood War Memorial, NYC Parks Website, Link
- Pietro Montana papers, 1910-1978, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Link
- The Biography of Pietro Montana (1890-1978), ArtPric.com, Link
- Pietro Montana, at 88, a painter and Sculptor. New York Times, July 21, 1978. Link