“Bruno Lucchesi is revered as one of the great sculptors and teachers of the late twentieth century… He has depicted the famous, such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain…” the article’s author, sculptor David Foster writes. The nine-page article traces Mr. Lucchesi’s career from his earliest years as an Italian shepherd to his last 51 years as one of the world’s most renowned sculptors of the human form.
Yet, it was more than a century later that a movement was formed to raise the money to commission the statue. In 1901, school children contributed pennies, nickels and dimes to create a memorial to this man who was responsible for the first English colony in America and for whom their state capital was named. The children from throughout the state gave generously to the Sir Walter Raleigh Commission and the sum grew substantial, but was not put to its purpose. A goodly portion of the contributions were lost in a Depression-era bank failure. Only $10,228 of the children’s donations remained.
Sporadic and half-hearted attempts to bring the statue into being surfaced and succumbed over the subsequent decades. Finally, the approaching American bicentennial prompted fruitful action.
Along with the commissioning of Mr. Lucchesi to create the statue, corporate sponsors from throughout the state contributed to getting the statue created and dedicated in honor of the nation’s two-hundredth birthday.
Seventy-five years into the idea stage, Mr. Lucchesi moved the idea of the statue into bronze reality. It was to be a heroically scaled sculpture. The artist prevailed upon the Sir Walter Raleigh Commission members to allow his vision of the sixteenth-century genius to be realized. While many of the commission members wanted Sir Walter Raleigh represented in the ruff – the customary curly collar of his time, the artist prevailed with Sir Walter Raleigh striking a haughty pose in open collar.
Mr. Lucchesi created the statue and cast it in bronze at his home in Pietrasanta, Italy. The statue was dedicated by the governor of North Carolina in Bicentennial Plaza on Dec. 3, 1976, the waning days of the nation’s bicentennial.