Mount Rush­more salutes top carver Del Bianco

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

KEYSTONE, S.D. — The chief carver of Mount Rush­more who was re­spon­si­ble for re­fin­ing the ex­pres­sions on the faces of the mon­u­ment’s four pres­i­dents was hon­ored Satur­day with a plaque that rec­og­nizes his work.

Luigi Del Bianco was an Ital­ian im­mi­grant and stone carver whose job in­cluded the tasks of sculpt­ing Jef­fer­son’s lips and Lin­coln’s life­like eyes. With the help of Del Bianco’s de­scen­dants, the Na­tional Park Ser­vice un­veiled a bronze plaque Satur­day in his honor. It will be on dis­play at the moun­tain’s Lin­coln Bor­glum Visi­tor Cen­ter.

Del Bianco be­gan work­ing on the sculp­ture in 1933 and re­turned to it in 1935. When he was des­ig­nated chief carver, Mount Rush­more de­signer Gut­zon Bor­glum wrote, “He will have com­plete charge of the prac­ti­cal ways and means of deal­ing with the fi­nesse of carv­ing and in­struct­ing the other carvers.”

Del Bianco had pre­vi­ously been listed among al­most 400 people who worked on Mount Rush­more dur­ing 14 years of con­struc­tion. The Na­tional Park Ser­vice said work­ers hoisted oth­ers up and down the face of the moun­tain, drilled, ham­mered, carved and blew up rock to con­struct the memorial, which draws more than 3 mil­lion vis­i­tors from around the world each year.

Park Su­per­in­ten­dent Ch­eryl Schreier said in a state­ment that the park is proud to rec­og­nize Del Bianco’s con­tri­bu­tions and “his story high­lights the artistry em­bod­ied in this iconic trib­ute to our na­tion’s his­tory.”

Del Bianco talked about carv­ing Lin­coln’s eyes in an in­ter­view with the Her­ald States­man in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1966, three years be­fore he died.

“I could only see from this far what I was do­ing, but the eye of Lin­coln had to look just right from many miles dis­tant,” he said. “I know ev­ery line and ridge, each small bump and all the de­tails of [Lin­coln’s] head so well.”

He also told the news­pa­per: “I would do it again, even know­ing all the hard­ships in­volved. … It was a great priv­i­lege granted me.”

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