The Oath of the Horatii

There is a special tree standing at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, special because it is standing. A lightning strike severely damaged the main trunk of the old bitternut hickory, but a side branch maintained upward momentum. The nuts from it germinated and became saplings in the periphery of the once massive progenitor. They surround it like children protecting the family line.

The Oath of the Horatii, painted by Jaques-Louis David in 1784, depicts three sons as they salute their father prior to going to war for their family name. In this version, sculptural elements were added to a tree and saplings to keep the old trunk from splitting further apart and to allow the younger generation to give physical assistance, making moral support more substantial. 

All work was done on site to fit the trees. Special sliding tension pegs were designed to allow for tree growth without forcing the bark to grow around the bracing. All joints feature wooden hinges to allow for tree movement in wind.

The Oath of the Horatii, bitternut hickory tree with hickory and pine framing, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, Cazenovia, NY

Detail of the bracing

 Detail of the bracing added to the saplings

Detail of the bracing added to the saplings

 The Oath of the Horatii in Winter

The Oath of the Horatii in Winter