One hundred years ago, Prince Albert I of Monaco and William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody hunted together just outside Yellowstone National Park. Sculptor Herb Mignery recently captured the visit in a sculpture commissioned by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
In honor of the visit of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco—Albert I’s great, great grandson—to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, September 19 – 22, 2013, the Center initiated a Monaco Sculpture Competition in fall 2012, asking contemporary western sculptors to commemorate the 1913 hunting excursion of Prince Albert I of Monaco and Buffalo Bill.
“It was a difficult decision with so many great sculptures to choose from,” explained Curator Mindy Besaw of the Center’s Whitney Western Art Museum. “However, our judges overwhelming chose On Common Ground, a sculpture by Herb Mignery. It makes a great addition to our collection, as well as a nice representation of the Spirit of the American West in its home abroad.” A third cast is to be sold at the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale on Friday, September 20.
Mignery is a popular and award-winning contemporary artist who also created the sculpture Code of the West, one of the Center’s monumental outdoor sculptures currently on display at Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody. Mignery is a member of the Cowboy Artists of America and has his work in numerous collections across the country.
“We had several criteria in choosing the most representative sculpture of the 1913 visit,” Besaw added. “Among other things, the judges asked themselves whether the sculpture adequately conveyed this historic event and portrayed the relationship between Buffalo Bill and Prince Albert I. We looked for interpretation that was interesting and unique—regardless of whether the viewer knew the story of the hunt or not. Finally, we gauged how future generations would view the sculpture and evaluated what the work says about our contemporary times as well as this particular historic moment.”
Judges for the competition included Besaw; the Center’s Executive Director and CEO, Bruce Eldredge; representatives of the Prince, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and the Monaco Embassy; and the Whitney Museum’s Advisory Board.
“[The sculpture] portrays the newly-acquainted relationship, reflecting a deep respect for each other because of the unique bond between hunters and outdoorsmen,” Mignery says of the sculpture. “The rifles are subtly included to convey their common interest—hunting—but not to take precedence over the personal connection between the two men, Buffalo Bill Codyand Prince Albert.”
Mignery and his wife were on hand to present the sculpture to the prince at a special luncheon on September 19.
Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West.