Charles Cary Rumsey (1879-1922), Smithtown Bull, about 1919-1922; bronze,cast by C. Valsuani, 26 x 41 x 11 inches; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Rumsey, 1984
Smithtown Bull by Charles Cary Rumsey Eligible for Historic Register
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Last year, Independent Scholar Corey Victoria Geske contacted the Burchfield Penney Art Center for information about Charles Cary Rumsey’s Smithtown Bull, the model for which is part of our collection. Rumsey (1879-1922), an artist and polo player, completed the sculpture about 1919-1922, before his tragic death in an automobile accident.
According to the legend of Smithtown’s founding, Richard Smith was permitted to define the perimeter of his property by riding on the back of a bull. In honor of this historical tale, the artist’s children, Mary Averell Harriman Rumsey and Charles C. Rumsey, Jr., arranged for the sculpture to be dedicated in the town’s River Park in 1941. Formidably, on its pedestal, the heroic-sized bronze is 9 ft. 1 in. high by 14 ft. 11 ½ in. long by 3 ft. 10 in. deep.
The museum has 44 works by Rumsey in its collection, as well as a substantial archive relating to his career, so I was able to provide information to Ms. Geske for her report to nominate the public sculpture for historic status. She was successful, receiving notice that Rumsey’s Smithtown Bull is eligible to be cited on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Her article in The Smithtown News that was published August 9, 2018 contains a wealth of information about Rumsey and his career. A second article by Sara-Megan Walsh published in The Times of Smithtown on December 20, 2018 reviews Ms. Geske’s success in moving the sculpture closer to its well-earned recognition.
Burchfield Scholar, Head of Collections, Charles Cary Rumsey Curator, Burchfield Penney Art Center & Burchfield Penney Instructor of Museum Studies, SUNY Buffalo State
Burchfield Penney Art Center