“Yes, sir, you are a sculptor.” - Rodin (about Haig Patigian)
Who he was
Haig Patigian was a sculptor of considerable fame in San Francisco. Versatile in style, he was responsible for several famous works of art that adorn buildings, parks and museum halls in San Francisco and throughout the United States.
Patigian was born in Van in Western Armenia, then part of the Ottoman Empire. His curious father became an amateur photographer as the new medium was taking shape, but he was accused of spying for the Russians by the Turks and escaped to the United States. Patigian soon followed, and after years on his father’s raising farm in Fresno, moved to San Francisco and began to sculpt.
After establishing himself as a talented sculptor in the United States, he went to live in Paris following San Francisco’s Great Fire, and developed his craft. His diverse sculptures include representations of Abraham Lincoln, a sculpture that now adorns San Francisco City Hall, U.S. General John J. Pershing who, during World War I, led American armed forces into Europe and whose statue is in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, as well as several classical mythical figures. Patigian also designed and sculpted the classical tableaus appearing on the facade of buildings, such as the Met Life building in San Francisco.
Patigian was a member and two-time president of San Francisco’s Bohemian Club, a private men’s club in the city.