Coppini, sculptor, was born in Italy in 1870, and grew up in Florence
where he was a student at the Academia di Belle Arte. He graduated
in 1889 and in 1896 he immigrated to the United States. He had very
little money and no knowledge of English but these setbacks didn’t
prevent him from getting married in 1898. His wife was Elizabeth di
Barbieri of Connecticut. Coppini became a U.S. citizen in 1902.
had heard of German Sculptor Frank Teich's search for an apprentice
sculptor, and so he moved to Texas in
1901. Teich needed help filling orders for memorials to Confederate
heroes. The political climate had softened by that time and statues
to Confederate heroes and common soldiers were being erected at a
near-furious pace. Coppini was commissioned to model a statue of Jefferson
Davis and four Confederate soldiers for a monument on the capitol
grounds. The monument won Coppini such praise that he knew he could
make it on his own without the .75 cents per hour he was making from
Teich. The two men soon parted company and occasionally bid against
one another for commissions.
c. 1912 DeLeon Plaza in Victoria.
Commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
TE photo, 2009
commissions followed, one of them being the Littlefield Fountain Memorial
(1920-28) at the University of Texas.
Some of Coppini's other Texas works include a statue of Rufus C. Burleson
at Baylor University in Waco
(1903), the bas-relief monument at Sam
Houston’s grave at Huntsville
(1910), a Texas Revolutionary monument at Gonzales
that same year, the unique Confederate soldier at Victoria
(1912) and busts of Generals Johnston, Lee, Jackson and President
Jefferson Davis, for the Confederate monument at Paris,
Another group statue called Victims of the Galveston Flood (1903-4)
was given to the University of Texas, Austin.
Coppini also modeled the equestrian monument to Terry's Texas Rangers
(the Eighth Texas Cavalry) on the Capitol grounds (1905-07) and the
Charles H. Noyes Memorial in Ballinger
(1918-19). See the poignant story of The
Most Photographed Statue in Ballinger, Texas.
Other works include The John
H. Reagan Memorial in Palestine
(1911) and the bronze doors of the Scottish Rite Temple in San
Antonio (dedicated 1926).
lived and worked in his studio in San
Antonio until 1916, when he moved to Chicago. Three years later
he moved to New York City to oversee the casting of the Littlefield
He was assisted on this and other projects by sculptor Waldine Tauch,
who began studying with Coppini in 1910 and continued to work with
him as his colleague and “foster daughter” until his death.
Coppini at work.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Collection, Baylor University
1937 Coppini established a studio at 115 Melrose Place in San
Antonio in order to work on “Spirit
of Sacrifice” cenotaph to the heroes of the Alamo (1937-39)
which stands on Alamo Plaza.
One of the other sculptors hoping to get this commission was Gutzon
Borglum – the man (with son Lincoln) who went on to carve the presidential
faces at Mt. Rushmore.
Other Centennial commissions awarded to Coppini were a U. S. commemorative
half-dollar in 1934 and the Hall of State bronze statues of Austin,
Rusk, Travis, Fannin, Lamar, and Houston (1935-36) in Dallas.
Coppini in 1941 was awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree
by Baylor University and even Italy acknowledged his work in America
by decorating him a Commendatore" of the Crown of Italy in 1931.
carriage stone from Coppini's home was rescued and placed in San
Antonio's San Jose Burial Park. TE Photo
work in the United States consists of thirty-six public monuments,
sixteen portrait statues, and about seventy-five portrait busts. His
attitude toward art and sculpture was critical of modernism. He felt
that sculpture in America could be saved by carefully screening art
students for talent.
He emphasized the importance of individual instruction from experienced
artists – a belief he put in practice by mentoring Waldine Tauch.
Coppini was not without his critics. Texas author J. Frank Dobie
is quoted as saying: “As for Coppini – he has littered up Texas
with his monstrosities….”
It is not known what Coppini thought of Dobie’s writing.
was head of the art department of Trinity University in San
Antonio for two years during WWII
and in 1945 he and Tauch co-founded the Coppini Academy of Fine
Arts in 1950.
Coppini died in San Antonio
in 1957, survived by his wife.
He was buried in a crypt of his own design in San
Antonio. Coppini and Tauch's work is exhibited today in their
Works in Texas
Monument Capitol Grounds, Austin
Monument Paris, Texas
1904 Woodmen of the World - Lakeview Cemetery, Galveston
1905 Burleson Memorial, Baylor University Campus, Waco
Texas Rangers Memorial Capitol Grounds, Austin
and Take It! Gonzales, Texas
1911 Sam Houston Memorial Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville Texas
W. Throckmorton (former) McKinney Courthouse Lawn, McKinney Texas
H. Reagan Memorial – Palestine, Texas
1912 Stephen F. Austin Texas State Cemetery, Austin
1912 Firing Line DeLeon Plaza, Victoria, Texas
1912 George O’Brien Millard (Pipkin Park), Beaumont, Texas
of the Sea - downtown Corpus Christi
1915 Joanna Troutman
- Texas State Cemetery, Austin
Noyes Memorial, Courthouse lawn Ballinger, Texas
1919 Julius A. Wolters, Shiner, Texas
1919 Lawrence Sullivan Ross Texas A & M University Campus
1922 Mr. and Mrs C.H. YOE, Cameron, Texas
1933 Littlefield Memorial Fountain - University of Texas Campus Including
free standing statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, James Hogg,
Albert Sidney Johnston, John H. Reagan and Woodrow Wilson
Bernardi - Fair Park, Dallas
1938 R.E.B. Baylor Baylor Campus, Waco
of Sacrifice” (aka The Cenotaph), San Antonio
1946 Genius of Music (w Waldine Tauch) Brackenridge Park San Antonio
1953 Coppini Memorial Sunset Memorial Park (Coppini’s gravesite) 1955
George Washington - University of Texas campus, Austin
1972 (posthumously installed) George W. Brackenridge 3501 Broadway
*Sculpted by Coppini in the 1930s, the statue was cast by Waldine
Tauch and due to a bureaucratic fiasco, it wasn’t installed until
Works in Texas
Grounds: Texas Confederate Monument, Terry’s Texas Rangers
State Cemetery: Stephen F. Austin, Joanna
University of Texas: George Washington Littlefield Fountain (including
statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, James Hogg, Albert Sidney
Johnston, John H. Reagan and Woodrow Wilson
George O’Brien Millard Beaumont (Pipkin Park)
Mr. and Mrs C.H. YOE
Station: Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Burleson Memorial
(Texas A & M Campus)
of the Sea
Prospero Bernardi Fair Park
Woodmen of the World (Lakeview Cemetery)
and Take It!
Houston Memorial Monument (Oakwood Cemetery)
James Throckmorton (former courthouse lawn)
Monument (downtown) Paris
“Spirit of Sacrifice”
(aka The Cenotaph),
Genius of Music (w Waldine Tauch) Brackenridge Park San Antonio,
Coppini Memorial Sunset Memorial Park (Coppini’s gravesite),
George W. Brackenridge 3501 Broadway San Antonio*
Winn Family Gravesite, City Cemetery #1
Firing Line (DeLeon Plaza)
(Baylor University Campus) R.E.B. Baylor Memorial and Burleson Memorial
Scottish Rite Temple Door
Scottish Rite Temple Door
|Frieze over the
doorway of the San Antonio Express News Building in San