A friend shared Elyse Graham ’07’s article about Alexander Phimister Proctor (Princeton Portrait, March issue), the sculptor who created the two Princeton tigers in front of Nassau Hall in 1911, and also my great-grandfather. He had an adventurous life — he was a cowboy and an artist, outdoorsman, and homesteader, and nicknamed himself “the sculptor in buckskin” (also the title of his autobiography).
For many years, my 83-year-old father and I have encouraged the University to conserve the two historic sculptures so that they can continue to greet students, staff, and visitors for many years to come. The campus has an incredible collection of public art, so Proctor’s tigers have not yet become the priority for conservation. Unfortunately, the historic bronze metal and patina are deteriorating due to many years of exposure to the elements, bird droppings, and energetic, climbing children! Each year that goes by, the artist’s original work is in jeopardy. The Proctor family is committed to sharing Proctor’s legacy, and helping maintain his monumental historic works across the country. Please save these museum-quality, historic sculptures!
Editor’s note: Bart Devolder, chief conservator at the Princeton University Art Museum, provided the following comment on the Proctor sculptures: “As with all campus art at Princeton, we have been watching these Tigers closely. A scheduled refurbishment by an out-of-state conservator suggested by the Proctor Foundation had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but please know that the works are not in danger. Various treatment options, including how to address the rubbed (indeed well-loved, as you say) areas and the preferred patina, have been considered, and conservation will go forward as soon as circumstances allow.”