As if pre-destined to spend his life in the field of art and the study of American Military history, Ron Tunison set out in pursuit of these interests as early as fifth grade with drawings of Davy Crockett at the Alamo and Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, both of which are proudly displayed today in his working studio. In every aspect of his life he has not wavered from his historical interests. He has established himself as an expert in his field of art with four bronze monuments on the Gettysburg, PA battlefield, one on the Antietam, MD battlefield and one at the entrance to the Museum of the Civil War Soldier at Pamplin Park near Petersburg, VA.
His studio at his home in New York’s beautiful Catskill Mts. is the location of his company, Historical Sculptures that he began in 1990 to promote and sell his work. The studio exterior appears to be a barn but in fact it is more like a museum. His working space is surrounded with Civil War art, books, and artifacts, all reference material for his work that is recognized for authenticity and realism. Born December 1946, Tunison’s passion and interest in the American Civil War have kept him busy for four decades, reading and studying the uniforms, weapons, and accoutrements in order to make his sculptures as historically true as possible. He was married in 1973. He and his wife Alice have raised their three children who have proven to be extraordinarily artistic. Ron participates in various reenactment groups that add color and realism to his work. The combination of his knowledge and talent together creates sculptures abundant with detail and a feeling that completely captures the period.
High School teachers and classmates were the first to collect Tunison’s artwork and sculptures. After graduation in 1965 came the first commissioned work to do a large-scale diorama of the battle of Gettysburg for the Ft. Defiance Museum, Gettysburg, PA.
Tunison’s art education continued at the School of Visual Arts in NYC where he studied painting, illustration, photography, and sculpting before graduating in 1969. In 1971 the illustrious sculptor Granville W. Carter saw Ron’s work. He was so impressed with Tunison’s sculptures that he procured for him a scholarship to study life figure and portrait modeling and anatomy with Michael Lantz at the National Academy School of Fine Arts in NYC. From 1968 – 1990 he sculpted one-of-a-kind fired clay military figures that were sold through The Soldier Shop on Madison Ave., in NYC and also to private collectors.
His artistic talent and interest in history landed him many commercial photography assignments for Look and Time magazine during the nation’s Revolutionary War Bicentennial celebrations. Paperback books and record covers were graced with Tunison photographs. His photography assignments included the 1974 T.V. special “The American Parade” series. On the set of “The 34th Star” starring Richard Kiley, a story about Kansas during the Civil War, Ron was the still photographer. His pictures were incorporated into this T.V. film.
The first important sculpting commission was for NYC’s Gale Gallery to create a series of busts and bas-reliefs of famous authors. Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson are just a few of the twenty-three likenesses he was commissioned to do from 1970 – 1975. (See link to commissions on home page) The Civil War period photographs Tunison created were used on the covers of Bruce Catton Civil War books and on the cover of Francis A. Lord’s book, “C.W. Collectors Encyclopedia, Vol.III”. His photo of a 5th N.Y. Zouave is in the title frames of the film, “Gettysburg” directed by Ron Maxwell.
sculpting started in 1980 when with five other accomplished artists Ron
founded The Society of American Historical Artists, SAHA,
whose purpose was to promote authenticity and quality in historical art.
Every Tunison sculpture sold at the first SAHA show on March 6th, 1982
Colorado. Demand for his work grew. The early SAHA shows gave broad recognition
to his work as well as publicity and exposure in prestigious magazines
Art’, ‘Sculpture’, ‘American
Art’, ‘Art West’ and ‘Art
followed from The Franklin Mint, The Danbury
Mint, and the Avon Cosmetic
Next came ‘The Friend to Friend Monument’ for Gettysburg in 1993. ‘The Irish Brigade Monument’ for Antietam, MD battlefield followed, dedicated in 1997. ‘The Delaware State Monument’ for Gettysburg was done in 2000 followed by ‘The Bivouac’ for The Museum of the Civil War Soldier at Pamplin Park. November 16th, 2002 was the dedication date of ‘The Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial of Elizabeth Thorn’, his 4th at Gettysburg, PA. He is currently working on the life-size bronze,‘The Patrick Cleburne Monument’ to be placed at Ringgold Gap battlefield in Georgia. Link to the Monuments page.
Ron is actively involved in the National Sculpture Society. He is on the Board of Advisors for the NY State Military Heritage Museum and is a member of The Company of Military Historians. He is involved with numerous preservation groups helping to preserve Civil War battlefields. He has been involved in the restoration of several Gettysburg Battlefield monuments including the 9th NY Cavalry Monument on the first days battlefield that was in need of a new scabbard after the original had been broken off and lost.
Today Tunison sculptures can be found in galleries, private collections and museums nationwide and throughout the world as well as historical societies and the following prestigious museums; The West Point Military Museum in NY, The New York State Military Heritage Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, The U.S. Cavalry Museum at Ft. Riley, Kansas, The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier at Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg, Va, The Atlanta Cyclorama, Georgia, and The Motts Military Museum in Ohio.
Inquiries for commissioned work are welcome.