Public Art

The Naked Truth

By Wilhelm Wandschneider
Category: Sculpture


The statue is a memorial to three German-American newspaper men: Carl Schurz, Emil Preetorius, and Carl Daenzer. It is also meant to commemorate the German spirit in American citizenry.

The design was selected through a competition initiated by the largest private donor, Adolphus Busch. All entrants were local artists, except Wandschneider, who was an internationally renowned sculptor from Berlin. The jury selected the German’s design of a single, nude female figure, and sent a cable to him to sail to the United States before informing the Memorial Association of their decision. The Association, upon seeing the proposal for a nude, was appalled, forcing the jury chairman to resign in disgrace, and patron Busch to send a hasty cable to the artist withdrawing the award. Wandschneider, years later, admitted that Busch’s cable arrived as he was leaving for the train station, but he destroyed it and came anyway. When he got to New York and heard about the controversy, he went directly to the German embassy, where an international dispute almost resulted. He and his wife continued on to St. Louis to claim the $23,000 first prize. They charmed the committee, and innocently contended that the nude woman represented Truth. Wandschneider’s design was accepted by the Association and constructed without any alterations.

Naked Truth was moved in 1969 from the northern end of the park to its present location in the center, to make way for the ramp onto Interstate Highway 44.

Dimensions: 8′ x 20′ x 15′
Year Completed: 1914
Material: Bronze on granite pedestal
Owner: City of St. Louis
Donor: German American Alliance and private donors

About the artist: