Editor's note: The following article was reprinted in Resource Library on February 17, 2010 with permission of the author and Brookgreen Gardens. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact Brookgreen Gardens directly at P.O. Box 3368, Pawleys Island, SC 29585: or:
Anna Hyatt Huntington: A Collector's Eye
by Robin R. Salmon
Anna Hyatt Huntington: A Collector's Eye presents 22 sculptures that were acquired for Brookgreen Gardens by its founders, Archer and Anna Huntington, through the decade of the 1930s. Although Archer Huntington provided the funds, it was Anna Hyatt Huntington who personally selected most of the acquisitions. She stated: "I want to get, if possible, what represents each sculptor at his best." Accordingly, the early collection reflected this statement in addition to the artistic interests and personal tastes of the Huntingtons.
In early 1932, Anna Hyatt Huntington received a list of available sculpture from William Drake of The Gorham Company Bronze Division. The list, arranged by artist, included the title, size, and price for each piece. On that list were 14 works by Daniel Chester French. Among Huntington's purchases from Gorham, between March and July 1932, was French's Benediction, along with works by 26 other artists. Benediction was the model for a memorial to soldiers from Massachusetts who died in France during World War I. The commission, approved by an out-going governor, was abandoned when his successor had other plans for the funds.
In the collection was The Puritan by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a landmark piece in American art history. One of his most popular works, The Puritan was one of the first from which Saint-Gaudens made reductions, a practice common among sculptors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Puritan was one of the first purchases made by Anna Hyatt Huntington from the Gorham Company.
Although he created only 21 sculptures in his career, Frederic Remington is thought of as one of the foremost sculptors of the American West. His illustrations and paintings of 19th century Western scenes today are considered iconic images. The Bronco Buster, his first attempt at sculpture, was technically daunting but he persevered, depicting one of the most recognized scenes of Western life. The sculpture was first cast in 1895. He smoothed the modeling and modified later examples, changing details such as the type of chaps worn by the rider or the position of the whip in his hand. This is a Roman Bronze Works casting of one of the later examples, purchased by the Huntingtons from the collection of F. A. Lawlor of New York City.
Other important pieces entered the collection by Harriet Frishmuth, who focused on joyful depictions of the female figure, and Janet Scudder, a specialist in garden sculpture. Anna Hyatt Huntington wrote to William J. Drake inquiring whether Harriet Frishmuth had ever done compositions with animals. Drake wrote to Huntington, April 4, 1932, sending photos of Frishmuth's Diana and the Hounds: "I was not sure when I sent these that this was really the model you had in mind but it was the only one along these lines that Miss Frishmuth has made." On April 8, 1932, Huntington replied: "Am returning some of the photographs you sent, which were very satisfactory to look over and many of them new to me. Shall be glad to see any you send -- you might include women's figures having some drapery -- especially if the design includes animals. We have to conform somewhat to the decided prejudice of the nude in women's figures in this part of the South." Perhaps Harriet Frishmuth's most popular sculpture, The Vine was acquired in 1935.
Janet Scudder's Frog Baby launched her career as one of the best known sculptors of garden and fountain sculpture. The joy and verve of Frog Baby (1901) is typical of the series of works created by Scudder in the early years of the Twentieth Century. Of the four works by her in the Brookgreen collection, two are fountains. A total of 97 sculptures was purchased by the Huntingtons from Arden Studios in New York City between December 1935 and December 1937, this sculpture being among the first.
Although best known for architectural sculpture -- including decorative panels for the Morgan Library in New York, pediments for the capitols of Wisconsin and Missouri, and friezes for many of the neoclassical buildings of Washington, DC -- Adolph Alexander Weinman created a wide range of award-winning artworks. His feeling for line and pattern gave his work movement and enabled him to present mass in perfect balance. Water Urchin is the head of one of a group of fish-tailed creatures designed in 1927 for a fountain on the grounds of the Capitol in Jefferson City, MO. It was presented to Brookgreen Gardens by the sculptor, a personal friend of Archer and Anna Huntington.
Several of Anna Hyatt Huntington's most important sculptures were transferred from her personal collection to Brookgreen Gardens during the 1930s. Forming the bones of the original sculpture garden, her bronze and aluminum castings of Diana of the Chase, Lions, The Young Diana, and numerous examples of wild animals, including Brown Bears, Vultures, and Wild Boar, were placed throughout the property. Jaguar Eating is one of a group of sculptures created by Huntington early in her career from a jaguar in the Bronx Zoo. Its companion pieces, Reaching Jaguar and Jaguar, achieved critical acclaim at the 1908 Paris Salon and helped to affirm her position as an important American animal sculptor.
While Paul Manship's inspiration was from ancient art, his sculpture technique was based on modernistic, contoured form. Studying at the American Academy in Rome, he developed the love of archaism that became characteristic of his sculpture. After returning to the United States in 1910, he eventually created works having less detail, simplified line, and more solidity. This style translated well to animal sculpture including the birds modeled for the Paul Rainey Memorial Gate at the New York Zoological Society. Anna Hyatt Huntington wrote: "I would like to have something of Manship's, but his pieces that I have seen have been held at too high a value for my collection" She eventually struck a deal with Arden Studios and purchased 12 examples of his work in 1935.
Designed for the Paul Rainey Memorial Gate at the Bronx Zoo, Shoebill Stork exemplifies Paul Manship's style in the 1930s and was one of ten birds from the gate acquired by the Huntingtons in 1935. In the following year, they purchased Manship's Diana and Actaeon in the five-foot-tall size but, seeing the pair placed in the gardens, the rice fields stretching out behind, the Huntingtons decided to exchange them for the over-life-size versions, creating more impressive silhouettes. On January 28, 1936, Ruth Meigs of Arden Studios wrote to Anna Hyatt Huntington: "We were perfectly delighted to know that the Manship figures are so completely adequate and that you are pleased with the larger size."
In the early Twentieth Century, a young Katharine Ward Lane looked to the established sculptor, Anna Hyatt, for encouragement in art. For several years, Hyatt, who lived nearby Lane's Boston home, served as her mentor -- critiquing her work and providing the encouragement that Lane needed to persevere. On April 19, 1932, William J. Drake of the Gorham Company wrote to Anna Hyatt Huntington: "I have an idea you might be interested in some of the work by Katherine [sic] Lane. She was recommended to me by Mrs. Fraser several years ago and has done some very interesting animal subjects." The response, on April 28, 1932, was: "I already have several of Miss Lane's pieces." Greyhounds Unleashed, from 1928, was purchased directly from the sculptor.
A synthesis of folk, classical, and modern influences, Elie Nadelman's sculptural compositions during the first half of his career were based on curves with smooth contours and elegant lines. Resting Stag is an example of his work done in Paris prior to his coming to America in 1917. After that, he experimented with wood, terra cotta, and papier-mâché in a style more akin to folk art. On February 18, 1936, Anna Hyatt Huntington wrote to Arden Studios: "If Mr. Nadelman can reduce his price somewhat we would be glad to include this piece, bronze stag with marble base, 27" high."
By the end of the 1930s, the Brookgreen collection included more than 350 works by important sculptors as well as rising stars in figurative art, representing the finest sculpture of its kind at that time.
(above: Malvina Cornell Hoffman (1885-1966), Bali Dancer, Gilt bronze, 1934. Acquired December 7, 1936; placed 1937)
(above: Janet Scudder (1873-1940), Frog Baby (also titled Frog Fountain), Bronze, 1901. Acquired December 11, 1935; placed 1936)
(above: Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973), Diana of the Chase, Bronze, 1922. Acquired 1934; placed 1934)
(above: Paul Howard Manship (1885-1966), Actaeon, Gilt bronze, 1915-1924. Acquired January 16, 1936; placed 1936)
Please click here to see object labels from the exhibition
About the author
Robin Salmon is Vice President for Collections and Curator of Sculpture at Brookgreen Gardens.
Resource Library editor's note
The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on February 17, 2010, with permission of the author and Brookgreen Gardens, which was granted to TFAO on February 8, 2010.
Anna Hyatt Huntington: A Collecting Eye is on exhibit at Brookgreen Gardens January 30 through April 25, 2010.
Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Helen Benso, Vice-President - Marketing, Brookgreen Gardens for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.
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