The statue is a copy of a late-ninteenth-century work created by the French sculptor Augustin-Alexandre Dumont that is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bronze sculpture (not the base) is representative of neoclassicism.
San Martin wears formal military dress and a ceremonial hat. His right arm extends forward with the index finger pointing. The left hand holds the reigns of the rearing horse. Ornamental details include braided epaulets, a sash with tassels, and a curved saber. The horse's arched neck and large sweeping tail function to balance the sculpture.
When the statue was originally erected in 1925 in Judiciary Square, it was set on a large granite base featuring bold, simple moldings and bronze reliefs inset in the shaft of the pedestal. The monument was disassembled in 1970 because of Metro construction. In 1976, the statue was relocated to Virginia Avenue at 20th Street, N.W. and set in a plaza designed by a local landscape architecture firm.
The General Jose de San Martin Memorial is significant as the first gift sculpture to Washington, D.C. from a foreign nation. An Act of Congress approved June 7, 1924 authorized its erection on public grounds. It was dedicated on October 28, 1925.
Jose de San Martin was born in Argentina to Spanish parents and spent most of his childhood and early adult years in Spain serving in the military. In 1812, he returned to Argentina and transformed volunteer soldiers into a disciplined army. He liberated the country from Spain then proceeded to do the same for Chile.
DC designation: February 22, 2007
National Register listing: October 12, 2007