Woman in Art/Chapter 19 - Wikisource, the free online library
Sculpture by Harriet Hosmer; Elizabeth Ney; Twentieth Century Progress; Evelyn B. Longman; Absetenia St. Leger Eberle; Malvina Hoffman; Nellie Vern Walker; Anna Vaughn Hyatt; Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Etc.
"It is the Creative Element that endures in all worthy human accomplishment, and that makes any lasting impression upon hu..an life."—James Beebe.
If any woman had longings to express her thought or ideal in clay or marble before the incoming of the nineteenth century, it was not recorded or chiseled for us of the twentieth century.
Harriet Hosmer was the first American woman whose art inclinations led to a sculptor's life. Her experience in developing was full of difficulties. Her mother died of consumption when her daughter was but a little child. Her father was a physician in Watertown, Massachusetts, where Harriet was born in 1830. Being a delicate child, her father encouraged her in every out-of-door sport. She lived in the sun, and the stunts any boy could do she loved to do: riding, swimming, boating, shooting, climbing trees, filling her room with nests of bird or bee, butterflies or snakeskins, till it was transformed into a museum of natural history. At the back of her father's garden was a bed of clay where she showed her early art instinct by modeling figures from that clay.
A preparation for her future work was the study of anatomy with her father, and afterward at the medical college in St. Louis.
Harriet Hosmer wanted to be a physician, but every medical school was barred to her; they could not and would not admit a woman. She applied in Boston and elsewhere for instruction in art, but without success. So back to St. Louis she went for anatomical drawing, which led on to modeling, and so by degrees she became a sculptor. Returning home she modeled her first figure, "Hesper," which being such a decided success, she went to Rome with her father and her dear friend, Charlotte Cushman. There she became a pupil of Mr. Gibson. In his studio she modeled "Daphne" and a number of heads. Her most ambitious work was a colossal statue of "Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra," of which only the head remains. Her "Reclining Beatrice" frankly shows that her subject and method were classic. Mr. Lorado Taft points out, with no less appreciation than justice, that the slippered foot and iron ring indicating her a prisoner are brought out in strong relief, which in present day method would be merely hinted, giving the quality of a thought rather than a hard fact. The "Sleeping Faun" is considered her best work. She remained in Rome for seven years, returning in 1859.
A few other names suggest woman's efforts in the sculptural art, and are noteworthy because they form an initial group and pave the way in marble and clay for younger women who are bound to lift ideals and results higher for each generation into a field yielding more and more of originality.
Emma Stebbins was one of that initial group to handle mallet and chisel. Born in 1815, and Charlotte Cushman the year following, it is not known that they were neighbors or friends till they met in Rome, but the fact is that while one was making her reputation before an audience the other was making her reputation by being in the audience and studying the actress; for the bust of Charlotte Cushman made the reputation of Emma Stebbins as a sculptor. "The Boy Joseph" seemed resurrected in stone in response to her will and determination. The life-work of Horace Mann for and among children will be brought to the mind of anyone who views the statue of the world's pioneer educator, his fatherly arm around the shoulder of a small boy. This work by Miss Stebbins was charmingly placed on the grounds at St. Louis for the Louisiana Exposition of 1904. It belongs in front of the State House in Boston.
In Central Park, New York, is another work of her hand, one of the figures of the beautiful fountain called "The Angel of the Waters." Her work ended in 1882. She was forty-two before attempting sculpture.
Margaret Foley, another of that early group, exhibited at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, 1876, a beautiful fountain of gracefully formed children playing in the water beneath tall-stemmed, overhanging leaves. The whole was most artistically placed in the Horticultural Hall. The basin of her fountain represented overlaying leaves, and one of the children stood in the water up to her knees. The whole is a dainty and perfectly natural idea.
In marked contrast to the children of the Now was a powerfully strong head presenting the artist's idea of "Jeremiah the Prophet." Margaret Foley was working hard as an artist during the years that Charles Sumner was doing splendid work as a statesman, and naturally the young woman from Vermont put her best power on the bust of the powerful man of Massachusetts. Her success, as expressed by Tuckerman, could not have been more satisfying to any artist. He has said, "It is unsurpassable and beyond praise!"
Miss Foley made a number of bas-reliefs of the poets, Bryant and Longfellow, and others.
Winnie Ream Hoxie, born in 1847, did, as we have seen, very little painting, and elated with her first efforts all too soon, embarked for Europe. Over there she discovered that sculpture was her workable gift. She was undoubtedly gifted, or she would never have received the order from Congress for a statue of Lincoln when she was but fifteen years of age. Though immature in some respects, it had strength enough to hold its place in Statuary Hall, Washington.
To touch more adequately on nineteenth century sculpture by women, we refer again to its use and display in the Woman's Building at the Columbian World's Fair in Chicago, as being the first use of note.
Mrs. Hoxie was represented in the Hall of Honor in that building by a bust typifying America, the stars and stripes draped over one shoulder. It is an exquisitely modeled head, commandingly set upon the shoulders, but it is the head of a Roman of high rank. "Miriam" and "The West" were also Mrs. Hoxie's work. The latter is a full length figure of a young woman, a sheaf of grain at her back, husked ears of corn at her feet, implements of industry in the right hand and left arm, armed as it were to promote progress in the West.
There were busts of some of America's most ardent workers for the uplift of humanity; women who have put brain and shoulder to the wheel of progress; strong charactered faces, gone already from earth, but whose influence pervades, and will long prevail in the civilization of this country and the world. Those busts represent Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Dr. C. B. Winslow, Susan B. Anthony and others.
The building that housed the arts and crafts work of women of the world in 1893 should be considered under the head of woman in art, for architecture such as that was indeed a work of art.
Miss Sophia G. Hayden of Boston, a graduate of the School of Architecture of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the designer and architect of the building. It was no amateur or student's work, but was selected for its skill of detail, no less than for its grace and harmony. Though she was unknown to the profession in general, they readily passed upon her design as the work of a professional architect, as shown in its comprehensive departments, the whole fitting admirably the environment of its assigined location and use.
For the decorative, as for the structural scheme, designs were invited among women qualified for such work throughout the United States, and after eager and close competition the prize was awarded to Alice Rideout, of San Francisco. The pediment and symbolic groups of the roof-garden were her work. On the roof were winged groups typical of feminine characteristics and virtues, in choicest symbolism. One of the central figures represented the spirituality of woman, and at her feet a pelican, emblem of love and sacrifice. In the same group charity was side by side with virtue, and sacrifice was further symbolized by a nun, placing her jewels on the altar. Another group represented the genius of civilization, a student at her right and a woman at her left struggling through darkness for the light. All these and other groups represent the genius and labor of Miss Alice Rideout. The center of the pediment was occupied by Minerva with Wisdom's owl at her feet, and on either side, women's work in the progress of civilization was typified by literature, art, and home life.
The caryatids supporting the entablature on the second story balcony were modeled by Miss Enid Yandell of Louisville, Ky.
Designs for the frieze in various rooms, for windows from different states, the actual carving of tables and newel posts, were all the handiwork of American women.
There is no more cosmopolitan nation under the sun than America, and no more cosmopolitan art to be found anywhere, because art is individual.
Because of this we find an influence for art was exerted in our Southern states by a woman not native to America, except in her broad mind and free spirit.
Elizabet Ney was born in the quaint old town of Munster in Westphalia, in 1834, but although born in Germany, her mother was of a family of wealth and culture that had escaped from Poland at the time of its most tragic upheaval, with merely such things as they could carry with them. The father of the future artist was French, a nephew of Marshal Ney of Napoleon's army.
When a girl in her teen years, Elizabet Ney found herself. Her mother was reading to her the romantic story of the life of Sabina von Steinbach, the daughter of the architect of the wonderful Cathedral of Strasbourg, who in the fourteenth century composed and chiseled in stone (working side by side with her father) the statues of the five wise and five foolish virgins which adorn the main entrance of that beautiful building. That bit of storied history proved to be the key to the inner sanctum of the young girl's life, for it awakened and set flame to aspirations for an art practiced only by men in her day. She would, and she must study art. It was finally arranged, and at seventeen she was working in the Academy of Fine Arts at Munich.
The professor of sculpture took her under his special care, escorting her daily from the home of a friend where she lived to the lecture hall; and to his amazement the presence of a young girl in a class of men had a most subduing effect. Chaos ceased and real work began, greatly to the surprise of the directors of the institution, who had been almost adamant against admitting a woman to the Academy. After two years the ardent worker moved on to Berlin for more advanced work with Christian Rauch, the most famous sculptor of his time. Especially was he at that time most celebrated because of his beautiful, recumbent statue of Queen Louise at Charlottesburg, and that of Frederick the Great in Berlin.
Rauch was a man of few words, who appreciated every help that had been given to him in his craving for an art education, yet when the girl-aspirant of nineteen entered his studio he briefly asked her to model a composition of her own; in a few days, on the strength of that composition, and the distinction of her two years' work in the Munich Academy, he recommended her for a two years' scholarship in the Berlin Academy. The authorities of that institution put up the bars; the student recommended was a woman! Objections were many and strenuous, but in the end she carried her point, and entered the Berlin Academy triumphantly. When her two years of scholarship expired. Christian Rauch offered the young artist a studio next to the government studio which he occupied, that her work might be under his immediate supervision, and for two years more she enjoyed the inestimable advantage of association with the greatest sculptor of that time. Death took the sculptor at the end of the two years, in his eighty-third year, and his pupil of twenty-three became in her turn what he had been in his—the portrait artist of the great men of her day, Von Humboldt, Von Liebig, Jacob Grimm, Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, Bismarck and many of lesser fame.
While still a young woman, she had gained greater reputation than good artists who had studied and labored a life time.
What a revelation it must have been to those hard-shelled directors of those two academies who debarred her entrance and only grudgingly admitted her, denying the right of a woman to aspire to the study of art. Neither one has ever admitted another woman.
Elizabet Ney's portraiture in oil or marble was considered phenomenal. Just here a quotation will enlighten us on another phase of her art: "Her ability to reveal the natures of children and delicate, poetic women is equally striking as the power and force depicted in her statues of Frederick the Great and Bismarck." It would seem that a greater difficulty came to the sculptor in the bust of such a duplex or complex character as Schopenhauer. His was the face of a man powerful and restless, whose very smile was of "sardonic hardness and ugliness, that of a pessimistic philosopher......One day, while she was modeling that robust character, the old philosopher sat studying her for a long time with an amused, quizzical expression. The artist bore it as long as she could, then asked, "Why do you look at me so, doctor?" His reply was, "I was just trying to see if I could perhaps discover the beginnings of a little mustache. It grows more impossible to me each day, to believe that you are a woman." But after all, the feminine in her must have finally impressed him, for in his published letters he speaks of her more than once as a most lovable "Mädchen."
So far the life and works of Elizabet Ney belong to Europe, portraying many of its great characters who made history during the nineteenth century. Why then did the great artist in the meridian of her success come to America? The only answer that has become known is this:
"In addition to her genius for sculpture, Elizabet Ney had a great genius for philanthropy; art for art's sake had been her guiding principle of life, and her motto, "Sursum" (upward), is but another way of saying it. Today we know it was for political reasons.
"Some years after the civil war a little band of Germans desired to form a community in a mild climate, far from the harrassing restrictions of monarchy. Miss Ney was of that group, most of whom soon returned to "Vaterland," but the artist remained and made her home in Texas. For some years she lived in a suburb of Austin, during which time she realized that one great need of the state was the cultivation of public taste and industrial education, guided by the influence of art. While pondering the matter, Governor Roberts called her from her retirement to visit him at the mansion for a consultation about plans for the state capitol about to be erected. One result of her visit was that she built her studio in Hyde Park and immediately began to interest such congenial minds as she could find among the men and women of Austin in a project for establishing a School of Liberal Arts in conjunction with the State University. The plan was heartily endorsed and put into effect, and instruction given in decorative and domestic arts as well as the finer arts, including the leading features of Pratt Institute of Brooklyn and Drexel Institute of Philadelphia."
The pioneer who founded Austin soon stood life-size in marble in the new studio, and of it some said, "You could say that even the ancestors of the artist must have been Texans to enable her to realize so perfectly in stone the true idea of the first Texan." While studying the work one was heard to say, "I do not ask, I do not care whether this is how Austin looked, I only know this is how he should have looked, for it is the perfect realization of the Austin whom history portrays."
The same may be said of the other great Texan, Sam Houston. An array of governors and generals of our South and West now add historic and art value to the state, because of the vital interest and genius of Elizabet Ney-Montgomery.
The artist was indeed feminine, and on a date not given had married a remarkably fine-looking husband, but her art claimed her own name. The fact that Dr. Edmond Montgomery was educated in Germany may have brought them together, but the real romance of their lives does not appear in the recital of Elizabet Ney's art. Of their two sons, the first died in infancy, the second lives in Texas.
Her last work—left unfinished—was Lady Macbeth, of which Mr. Lorado Taft has said, "It is one of the most expressive and eminently sculptural conceptions among recent American ideals." Mr. Taft has also conceded that "her sketches and compositions are admirable, so are her virile yet simply-handled heads of the forceful sons of Texas. Her work is full of life in expression—an easy mastery of form which is unknown to the majority of sculptors."
Her marbles of Austin and Houston are in Statuary Hall in Washington, D. C.
The artist died in her home June 25, 1907 (born in 1834). She was one of the greatest sculptors of modern times.
Evelyn Beatrice Longman, N. A. (Mrs. H. N. Batchelder), was born in Winchester, Ohio. She was educated at Olivet College, Mich., 1897 to 1898, and the Chicago Art Institute 1898 to 1900, where she studied with Lorado Taft for the beginning of her sculptural career. After graduating from the Institute School, she studied in New York till 1906 with Daniel Chester French. With those two masters of sculpture to guide her unfolding ability, Evelyn Longman, plus her own genius for work and subject matter, has become a genuine American artist. Her industry has created many statues and reliefs large and small, each showing her high ideals and the conscientious technique of her art.
Her first principal work was prophetic; it was "Victory," a colossal male figure holding aloft a laurel wreath and oak branch, which surmounted the dome of Festival Hall at St. Louis in the World's Fair in 1904. It was awarded the silver medal. Bronze reproductions are owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Chicago Art Institute; the Union League Club of Chicago; the Toledo and the St. Louis Museums of Art. It is also used as a trophy of the Atlantic Fleet of the United States Navy. Hers was a lofty idea for the bronze doors and transom to the chapel of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, the commission for which was won in open anonymous competition of thirty-two competitors (1906). They are among the largest bronze doors in America, measuring twenty-two feet to the top of the transom. The main panels of the doors depict the study of scientific warfare and warlike patriotism, and the transom represents Peace and Prosperity honoring the ashes of the dead. The work was erected in 1909. The Ryle Memorial was placed in the Public Library of Paterson, New Jersey, in 1907. It is a bronze figure of Mercury. Heroic figures in white granite of Faith, Hope and Charity surmount the Poster Mausoleum at Middleburgh, New York. The bronze doors of Wellesley College Library, Wellesley, Mass., are the work of Miss Longman in 1911, and the same year she accomplished the General Henry Clark Corbin Memorial, for the Headquarters of the Department of the East on Governors' Island, New York. It is three-quarters portrait relief in bronze with inscription and decorative frame. Miss Longman was the creator of the fountain of Ceres in the fore court of Four Seasons at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, 1915. It is a figure of Ceres surmounting a pedestal bearing fruit and flower girls in relief. At the same exposition a marble group won for the artist the silver medal award; "Consecration" is its title, and represents a man and a woman embracing, a most delicately modeled nude with figures half life size. Another of her works idealizes the invisible power "Electricity," a colossal, winged, male figure in bronze wresting electricity from the elements with one upraised hand, while the other holds a live cable loosely coiled about his nude body. She won the commission in anonymous invitatory competition in 1916. This unique and altogether striking symbol surmounts the American Telephone and Telegraph Building in New York.
The Illinois Centennial Monument is a lofty fluted column rising from a drum-shaped base twelve feet in diameter, which supports thirteen appropriate figures in high relief, more than life size; upon its doric capital rests the American Eagle done in marble. To the left of the base stand historic figures of Indians, Pere Marquette, La Salle and Clark, and to the right are symbolized Agriculture, Industry, Transportation, Education and the Fine Arts. Miss Longman's work in 1918 includes a young girl called "The Future," one hand reaching out dreamily toward a dreamed-of future. The Naugatuck War Memorial in Tennessee marble was worked out the same year. In 1922 the Theodore Chickering Williams Memorial, Carrara marble, was accomplished for All Souls Church, New York City. A more than life-size portrait of the man, seated, is in high relief, and he holds the quill pen over the manuscript; the background is in low relief, and indicates beautifully the female figure of Inspiration, with wings outspread, holding a Roman lamp as she inclines gracefully toward the earnest thinker, whose upturned face expresses inspiration. Although Miss Longman's work is with the hard material of marble, she not only achieves grace of form and line, not only texture of metal, feather, or fur, but in a marvelous degree the impress and expression of spirit, of emotion. From the very shape and form of that memorial tablet, carved as an intaglio, comes the low relief of Inspiration bringing forth the high relief of thought in the brow and eye to action with hand and pen.
The setting, the environment of even the finest works of plastic art may heighten or mar their beauty, if not in harmony; but the architect, Henry Bacon, has enhanced the idea of the artist by his appreciation of the spirit and dignity of her subjects.
Miss Longman has accomplished another work of exceeding impressiveness. It is the Storey Memorial: a seated figure in high relief is voluminously draped; the finger on the lips symbolizes silence. The poppies in her lap indicate sleep; the key in the left hand has fastened the door of the tomb.
What's in a name? The question flashed to mind when looking at two heads from Miss Longman's studio. Both represent girlhood. Both are fascinating. One is of vivacious, sprightly character, head alert, eyes looking beyond you at something as fascinating to her as her face is to you; her whole face is a smile, every muscle expresses joyousness, the parted lips cause a bewitching dimple and disclose the pretty, even teeth. In her short waving hair is a sprig of holly. O, but she's jolly! The other maiden has a sweet face, and thoughtful, the eyes downcast; were one or two words spoken, the eyelids would lift and let fall a tear, or the lips would part with a questioning smile. Her hair is slightly rolled from the face, the heavy braid forming a crown that maidenhood may glory in, surmounting a face that can be in sympathy with joy or sorrow.
One is called "Elizabeth," the other "Peggy." Which is which?
Through the years of Evelyn Longman's career, her works are like milestones marking her way. But as the artist cannot keep the work, the prizes, medals and honors are becoming the markers.
Another marble from the workshop of this artist is a most exquisite portrayal of the nude. In the Heckscher Museum, Huntington, Long Island, is a children's fountain carved from the purest Carrara marble. Three young children are watching a bronze frog spouting water from the brim of the basin; the spontaneous expression of wonder and delight in those bewitching baby faces is fascinating to watch, and wonderful as a work of art. The texture of that seeming flesh, with dimples and creases, responds to the unconscious pressure of their fingers on one another as they look, spellbound.
A gold medal was the reward to the artist for that fountain when exhibited in 1922; also for the Naugatuck War Memorial.
One of the most pure nudes in modern art Miss Longman has simplified as "Nature." It expresses purity of thought, of sweetness and the dignity of repose, all are there. The position is grace itself. Were it vitalized, strength, dignity and decision would be dominant. The master's chisel has said it.
This nearly life-size figure was awarded the Shaw Memorial prize in 1918, by the Academy of Design, New York; also it captured the W. M. R. French prize at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1919, and the Widener gold medal from the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, 1921.
Portrait busts, medals and reliefs come frequently from Miss Longman's studio, chaste and strong in their presentation; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bacon; Judge Allen F. White; N. H. Batchelder (educator); Mr. and Mrs. Robert de Forest, among them.
At the Sesquicentennial held in Philadelphia (1926), Mrs. Evelyn Longman Bachelder, N. A., is represented by her latest finished work, a portrait relief of the eminent American sculptor, Daniel Chester French, her former teacher.
"It is an admirable likeness of Mr. French, and shows the distinguished sculptor seated in life-like pose. To those who know him the likeness is remarkably fine and convincing of one who occupies a foremost place in the realm of American Art.
"One of the most interesting features in the composition is the simple background with a frieze in which a number of Mr. French's masterpieces appear. These include "The Minute-Man" at Concord, Massachusetts; the group entitled "The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair," which is in the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D. C.; "Africa," on the New York Custom House, New York; the "Melvin Memorial," at Concord; "The Angel of Death and the Sculptor," in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the sculptor's well-known statue of Lincoln, in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington. . . . This is a likeness of Mr. French that will last. It is notable for its simplicity in treatment and for its strong characterization. A portrait of a sculptor of high ideals, Mrs. Bachelder is to be felicitated upon her latest achievement."
Her work has won for her a membership in the National Academy of Design, New York; the National Sculpture Society; the American Numismatic Society; the American Federation of Arts; the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts; the American Archaeological Society, and the Municipal Art Society of New York City.
Mrs. Evelyn Longman Batchelder is represented in the Metropolitan Museum of New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Art Museum of Cleveland; the John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis; Art Institutes at St. Louis and Toledo; the Cincinnati Art Museum, and elsewhere.
Those interested in the unfolding of American art may look longer than the year 1926 for such superlative sculpture as is being wrought here and now; and you may find it, for Progress will be a habitant spirit of earth as long as time is. Spirit is the parent of thought, thought is the parent of action. When action symbolizes or expresses spirit in material form, so that the human spirit responds to spirit in the inanimate, the thought and hand have accomplished great art.
Everyone has a background. Our artist harks back to the nation of artists where the name was Longmain, which may account for her having the hand of a sculptor, though her father is of English extraction, where the French name became anglicized. Her mother was English-Canadian. The future artist was the fifth in the family of six children. Her father, a professional musician, amused himself with painting when opportunity offered, and the child may have inherited her love for the beautiful from him.
The family exchequer not being adequate per capita, the ambitious girl had to leave school when only fourteen and begin to earn her own living. She was clerk for a wholesale house for a number of years, but while she was busy all through the day with the monotonous drudgery of a down-town office, her ambition and courage took her to the night school of the Art Institute with great regularity, until she found the double strain too great, and the art fervor had to wait. Not long, however, for the sincerity of the girl was such that she began to save from her modest salary, until she had a seemingly Carnegie foundation. But it served its purpose, for with it she was able to begin her career by studying for a time at Olivet College, Michigan, the drawing and painting she hungered for. Here, too, she made her first attempts at modeling. After her $265 fortune had gradually melted away, she came to Chicago in 1899, and began the serious study of sculpture, paying for her tuition by work in the Institute library at night. More than two years of study at the Art Institute were followed by teaching in the summer school. In 1901 Miss Longman's ambition took her to New York with just $40 in her pocket. Fortunately, she obtained work for a time in the studio of Herman A. MacNeil, and later, for a short time, assisted Isidore Konti. Although her most lavish dinner could be set down in her account book at fifteen cents, the forty dollars was on the vanishing page. At that critical, yes, tragic juncture, came an offer of work as assistant in the studio of Daniel C. French, today one of America's greatest sculptors. From that hour, in the congenial atmosphere of this kind and helpful artist's studio, the sky began to brighten. There she toiled for three years, the way becoming steadily pleasanter and easier, and in time the orders and work led to a studio of her own.
Abestenia St. Leger Eberle
It takes all sorts of people to make a world, and all kinds of artists to mobilize for an artistic nation or epoch.
American art really began with the portraits of the first President of the United States, and a few of the loyal, brainy, practical men who assisted in shaping and laying the corner stone of the American republic. Now that the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Monroe Doctrine and the Gettysburg Speech have built up and cemented the human walls of the Republic into the fabric of a Nation, the refinements of peace and prosperity are at bud and bloom, in forms of the arts and sciences.
There are many in this American commonwealth who, through the decades of nation-building, have realized that growth and development prepare for the next stratum of national achievement, and so have augmented educational facilities, not only for those born under the flag, but also for all who disembark at our flag-guarded ports.
Abestenia Eberle is a plastic artist of plastic clay, whereby she is modeling the plastic forms, the plastic minds and hearts of the child-life in New York's East Side. She is gifted with art ability, with the understanding of and love for children; she has visions of their value to the world, and helps unthinking people to understand that value. Nowhere is there sculpture more convincingly human than Miss Eberle's. Her studio is a miniature of the community where she dwells. There is the shy little girl, hands in jacket pockets and chin 'way down on her chest; she wants to look up but dare not raise her head—so shy. Then there is "The Little Mother" with the baby in her arms, keeping her out of doors while the mother is washing within. Children are far more expressive than adults who have learned to control their feelings. There is the child flying along on one roller skate, hair to the wind, arms extending in her exhilaration, with no idea that she is skating for the public and into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She personifies Joy, because she is brimming over with joy.
In powerful contrast to such youthful happiness, Miss Eberle has produced another phase of socialistic conditions in a group that speaks for itself, "The White Slave." When the writer came upon that startling presentation of one of the most cruel and criminal practices in the civilized world, the shock was poignant and there flashed to mind two words—Heaven and Hell! Innocence and crime! A monument to depraved human nature. It shows a coarse, repulsive man, outstretched hand and hideous mouth, auctioning off a young girl to the highest bidder. His right hand holds her two wrists firmly behind her back. Her head is bowed low, her hair hiding in part her shamed face. By the position of the knees, they almost refuse to support the nude body. There goes many a cry to heaven against such atrocities, and humanitarians everywhere are doing much toward answering such prayers. Why should not the artist proclaim against an evil as well as to lift high a "Victory," a "Horace Mann" with arm affectionately about a boy who looks love and homage up into the strong face and clear eyes of the child-lover and life-saver.
It is an understood fact that illustration, in this present, is a decided factor in commercial and literary progress, proving that adults as well as children are influenced by pictures, and that the fine arts no less than the liberal arts have a mission beyond beauty, even a didactic use. But sculpture and painting as representatives of the fine arts have, perhaps, the highest, the most deep-seated influence for beauty and character and uplift.
Having chosen one's life work, the circumstances that hedge the path broaden the ideals, lighten the labor, and lift the spirit to higher aspirations, whatever the subjective, or the objective.
Miss Eberle's work seems progressing by these steps.
"The Windy Doorstep" gives the sense of a vigorous, housewifely woman, who does her duty rain or shine. Her clasp on the broom proves her no novice with the anti-dust brigade; the practicality of the artist has made her sweep with the wind, and it was a regular March wind at that.
"The Rag Picker" is a most pathetic figure of an old woman bending over an alley can; it tells its own story. We have all seen it, and are thankful its repetition in real life is becoming yearly less.
Abestenia St. Leger Eberle studied first with George Gray Barnard for three years. In 1904 she was awarded a bronze medal at the St. Louis Exposition. "The Girl On Roller Skates" was bought by the Metropolitan Museum in 1907; "The Windy Doorstep" was awarded the Helen Foster Barnett prize in 1910 by the Academy of Design, New York; the figure of the veiled "Salome" was bought by an Italian Art Society in Venice; and she is one of the ten women members of the National Sculpture Society.
Miss Eberle believes that the artist may rightfully hold the mirror up that humanity may see itself as others see it. And yet she loves art and the beauty in art; but more does she love the beauty of soul that she recognizes often in the garb of poverty and walking often the blind alley of disappointment.
She also studied at the Art Students' League in New York during three winters; the summers were spent in Porto Rico, where the picturesque natives gave her abundant inspiration. From her teacher and the Art League she gained technique, but only discovered the real line of her interest when her family located in New York. Then it was that she did intimate living portraits, modeling women and the exuberant, life-loving children of the East Side of New York. Like every true artist, Miss Eberle is in love with her art and her work.
After "The Windy Doorstep" gained the Helen Barnett prize in 1910, Miss Eberle was in Italy seeking new motives. She did not have to search for them. She was in Naples, where every American may be sure of a train of motives to choose from, or escape from. The sculptor made her clay models, then came the casting.
She said, "I had never been in Italy before, when fate suddenly sent me to a bronze foundry to have some work done which would necessitate my constant presence there for two months." Her experiences were unique. The penny bus took her up the long hill toward Capo di Monte and the foundry. She found the right number but in the open doorway a white-haired old lady was shelling peas. Thinking herself mistaken, she was about to turn away when the domestic woman answered her inquiry by screaming aloud, 'Antonio! Antonio!' and her son came and invited me into what proved to be the foundry after all." "He had had the plasters some days, and the waxes were ready for me to retouch. There were eight or ten men in the room, all working on bronzes, cleaning, chasing, filing at them or retouching the waxes from which the bronzes are made. I worked from nine o'clock till five for six weeks in that room. The passersby could never get over the sight of a woman, and an American woman at that, working at what they consider a man's trade. Some would exclaim in surprise, 'Dio Mio! A woman? Una Americana!' and the padrone would suavely explain, 'Yes, they do that in America.' 'But to work like a man! Dio Mio'!"
Those people have yet to learn,
"Blessed are they that work,
For they shall inherit the earth,
In the dawning day."
A friend of the artist wrote of the beginning of her work on the East Side. It was printed in a supplement years ago and was to be relegated to the barrel of waste paper when the writer rescued the yellow paper just now, and from it makes this quotation:
"A tea-wagon, a rag-picker, the janitor's daughter, and her cat, all are omitted from the brief "Who's Who" narrative of the life of Abastenia Eberle, sculptor. Yet they were as definite factors in her career as a course at Princeton was to Woodrow Wilson's, or a singing teacher in Caruso's. They helped to direct the subsequent course of her life, and to give this country one of its most definitely American plastic artists.
"A friend of Miss Eberle's gave her the tea-wagon. The friend was going away, and the tea-wagon was a mark of appreciation of the many late afternoon hours she had spent in the sculptor's studio with congenial friends. The tea-wagon was as revealing to Miss Eberle as a horoscope. It showed her that she was in danger of settling down to sculp for an audience that liked tea and cake with its art.
"The next day she went down to the East Side and tramped through the swarming streets till she came to the type-swarm she liked best—the massive, sculptural, Russian Jews. It was Madison Street, and she rented a floor in an old-fashioned house, with a dentist on the floor below and a tailor on the ground floor. There were daily visits for a short time, superintending painting and cleaning, and then Miss Eberle moved in—without the tea-wagon. She had set apart one room for the children's playroom, put in some cheap toys, to inveigle some neighboring children. But little Becky Ravinsky anticipated her plan and became part of her life history that first day. The children came, and Miss Eberle displayed the playroom and toys, and said it would be open after school hours and all day Saturdays. No further advertising was needed.
"Now in that neighborhood people live twelve hundred to the block, so children are not scarce. They flocked in far beyond the capacity of the playroom at first, but in time settled down to about twenty-four steadies. Why? Maybe just as artists form a very small percentage of the community, so do art's and artist's appreciators. And you must have a certain amount of devotion to art to remain long in that playroom circle. There were no rules governing that playroom, except that Miss Eberle liked you to say "Good morning," and put you out for the day if you were too noisy. The door was always open between studio and playroom. But the motive was not to keep tabs—at least not in the school-marm way. One would think the children would have invaded Miss Eberle's privacy rather than she theirs, for she stood there all day at a tall stand playing her own games with heavy, messy, soft clay. But she had drawn a chalk mark—like Merlin's magic circle—around the modeling stand, and none dare invade it except—invited."
If the reader has never been in the studio of a sculptor, there is much lacking in his understanding, pleasure and appreciation of the completed statue, the finished work. Every branch of art calls for its needed environment, like any other work. A painter must not have any dust in his or her studio, while a sculptor's workshop is of necessity dust-laden. The first clay modeling is free from dust, but the casting in plaster is a dusty proposition; bronze casting has other difficulties, and the cutting of stone varies from all the others. A painter can get along in a room of rather medium size, but a sculptor needs space, high and wide, step-ladder and platform if the work is large. Many an unused barn has been converted into a very productive studio. For summer, at least, Miss Malvina Hoffman works out her inspirations in such an one, in a charming spot in New York, in which she tells us something of her progress up one of the most difficult paths of art. Home influence, and that of travel, have meant more than pleasure to her; they have been of fundamental and evolutionary value in constant unfolding.
"In the first place, I feel that perhaps the most helpful influence in my life of sculpture has been that from my earliest childhood I have been taught to have a profound respect for hard work and good craftsmanship. My father was a most ardent student of his art all his life, and his pianistic career which enabled him to appear in public for fifty years was based on the most sincere and idealistic foundation."
As a girl, Miss Hoffman's first efforts in drawing and painting were directed toward the idea of "earning a trip abroad," which made the eventual realization of the dream a very vital and keen experience—a sense of appreciation and reverence for the Old World has been a continual inspiration of study. "One cannot emphasize too strongly the inestimable value of constant study of the classic in the arts."
"During three winters in New York I studied dissection and anatomy. My work under Rodin in Paris consisted chiefly in the study of marble carving and modeling of innumerable clay studies and compositions for groups. He also insisted upon my drawing from models at least two or three hours daily. His keen admiration for all the beauty of what he called 'La Nature de Dieu' drove him to making thousands of drawings, a few dozen of which are on exhibition in his museum. Sculpture as a profession is not by nature well suited to a woman's life. The hours of work are naturally no longer than those of other arts, but the sculptor does his work standing, climbing ladders, or banging away pretty strenuously with mallet and chisel. The physical labor of building a really strong armature of iron and wire and wood, then the manipulation of clay and construction of a figure demands a rather unusual amount of strength and fitness. If the sculptor carries through his work into the realms of stone, marble or wood carving, this demands far more patience and dogged perseverance than is generally supposed to be necessary.
"In the art of sculpture, constant study of forms and the practice of committing these forms to memory is certainly the main road to progress. Every sculptor should work a certain amount in all materials, for each has its own limitations and demands. The treatment, for example, of a figure a foot high would never be adequate for a life-size one, and often the faults of the latter are mechanically enlarged to a colossal proportion by machinery and the final monument suffers from just this lack of appropriate treatment for its proportion, or out-door silhouette and setting. Bronze demands another treatment entirely from stone."
Only last winter Miss Hoffman was in Jugo-Slavia where she visited the Academy of Arts in Zagreb directed by Ivan Mestrovic, and was very much struck by the thorough and practical methods enforced there. Her own relation of it throws direct light on the sculptural branch of art, that seems worth while to an appreciation of a finished production, in whatever medium.
"When a student graduates from this academy after four or five years he must be able to draw from life and classic casts, and from memory, enlarge or reduce drawings or clay models, model and cast his own work in plaster, carve in wood or stone, be equipped to understand all the processes of bronze casting, be able to make and temper his own tool for carving both in stone and wood. In fact, he must be capable of earning his living as a practical craftsman, as well as being an artist when natural gifts show themselves to be existent—and these gifts are not especially encouraged unless thought to be far above the average, a very important factor.
"If such methods could be carried out in all art schools, we would have far more good workmen, and fewer 'near artists'."
For the past two years this strenuous artist has been considering the composition of a group representing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It has necessitated the study of horses and monumental architectural sculpture in general; also it has led her into the study of comparative religions, the origin of symbols and ancient decorations. She tells how her travels in Tunisia and the Island of Djerba were most interesting in the light of these subjects; and in Rome—let her own enthusiasm touch the reader.
"Later in Rome and other Italian cities, the splendor of ancient art filled my soul, and more than ever before I should like to lay my homage at the feet of those great masters whose example of industry and passionate knowledge lives on through the ages and carries high the torch of Beauty, so that all may see and learn."
Miss Hoffman's first efforts in sculpture reflect action, energy, and a certain personal element that a true artist must have. Being permitted a glimpse of her personality and equipment, there is no mistake in saying that her appreciation and experience of art development carries the tone of a master.
Malvina Hoffman is one of the leaders toward the high-water mark in sculpture. She has made three portrait busts of Ignace Paderewski, representing respectively "The Man," "The Artist," and "The Statesman." The art value of these, as of others of her work, is beyond question when their place in the world is considered. All have had a fair showing in art centers. Mrs. Henry F. Osborn purchased "The Artist" and presented it to the American Academy in Rome. Interpreted, it is "the embodiment of a soul of dreams." "The Statesman," a most impressive head, has been said to suggest the brooding mystery that recalls the Egyptian; adding to that, it is a powerful face, the brow and eyes portraying deep thought.
A masterpiece by Miss Hoffman is "The Sacrifice," a memorial group of the late Robert Bacon (1860-1919), Secretary of State, Ambassador to France, et cetera, and of the Harvard University men who lost their lives in the World War. It represents a dead Crusader lying on a cross, his head resting in his mother's lap, and symbolizes "Sacrifice." It is in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. It is a case of stone expressing the spirit that was His, and is that of the mother—Sacrifice.
A portrait of "Gervais Elwes" is for Queen's Hall, London, and another exceptionally great work, not yet completed, will also go to London, to be beautifully set in a large, temple-like building.
"La Peri" and a series of panels that the artist has called "Bacchanale Dance" represent poses of Pavlowa and her partner. The wisps of diaphanous drapery add grace to the whirling, swirling figures of the dancers. A most difficult thing to achieve is instant action, especially where every muscle is in motion.
"Offrande" is in Parian marble and might be taken for a classic nude in form and beauty, pure and chaste in material and sentiment.
Miss Hoffman was born in New York, June 15, 1887, and is the daughter of Richard Hoffman, a pianist of renown. She studied painting with John W, Alexander, and sculpture wtih Gutzon Borglum in New York and Auguste Rodin in Paris.
The following are some of her awards: Portrait of S. B. Grimson, honorable mention, Paris, 1911; honorable mention, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915; Shaw Memorial prize, National Academy, New York, 1917; the George D. Widener Memorial Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy, 1920; the Helen Foster Barnett prize, National Academy, 1921. Works from her studio are to be seen in the American Museum of Natural History and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Museum; the Cleveland Museum, and the Luxembourg Musée, Paris.
Miss Hoffman is a member of the Art Alliance of America, the National Institute of Social Science, the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the National Sculpture Society, the Painters' and Sculptors' Gallery Association and honorary member of the Three Arts Club. Her decorations are "Palmes Académique, France, 1920, and "Royal Order of Saint Sava III," Jugo-Slavia, 1921.
During the war Miss Hoffman was director of domestic and foreign information at the New York Chapter of the American Red Cross. She was one of the founders and the American representative of the Appui aux Artistes, a French war charity. In 1918, she organized the American Jugo-Slavia Relief, for collecting and distributing food and clothing to the debilitated children of Jugo-Slavia. In 1919, she made a tour of the Balkans for the American Relief Administration, where she gathered information as to the immediate needs of the country and visited the child-feeding stations. These vital human experiences seem to have been of value to the art of Miss Hoffman, rather than a hindrance.
Malvina Hoffman was married to Mr. Samuel Bonarios Grimson June 6, 1924, in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in the St. Ansgarius Chapel, where at present is placed her masterpiece, "Sacrifice."
Be the artist man or woman, and be their art expressed in sculpture or painting, the dominant element in personality will be the dominant trend in their art. That fact accounts for the variety in taste, ability and appreciation. We realize that fact the more we study "one man shows." When the work is as large in character as that of Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the fact is more pronounced.
The sympathy Mrs. Whitney has shown in her helpfulness to younger artists has found a stronger expression in her war sculptures. Her work in plastic art has a vividness and pathos that can only come from one who has been an eye witness of the subject in hand, and whose heart as well as mind has been opened by the sight of suffering and agony, and thrilled with human sympathy and national patriotism that welled up at battle scenes and the hospital aftermath during the World War.
Thus her experience in France has made cold granite and marble eloquent with her message to a peace-loving world.
One hardly needs to refer to the names that signalize the heroic groups from the studio of Mrs. Gertrude Whitney. "Blindness" is pitifully human, and the Good Samaritan soldier guiding him is possessed of that spirit of brotherhood that flowered more and more as bloomed the poppies red on Flanders Fields. "Honorably Discharged" is the lame man leaning upon his crutch; he has done what he could. Each name brings a vivid rehearsal of the horrible warfare. "Chateau-Thierry," "At His Post," "Refugees," "Gassed," "Spirit of the Red Cross," all speak to the soul of the subject.
Mrs. Whitney's technique is decidedly her own, indeed it might be considered the impressionism in sculpture; as some one has expressed it, "impressions caught out of a war-ridden air," for it surely partakes of the conditions existing when she made her sketches. For heroic works seen at a distance, it is most effective. Knowing this, the artist made a bit of an Italian garden of the space at the rear of her studio as environment for some of her work. A relief in marble of "The Blind Soldier" was particularly significant embowered amid evergreens.
The Titanic memorial, given by the women of America to be erected in Washington, D. C., is the work of Mrs. Whitney. The position of the half-draped man with outstretched arms is that of a man in the water about to take another stroke, which he does not take, and the arms are upborne by the water. Here again is the pathos of a tragedy.
One of Mrs. Whitney's latest achievements is most striking in its symbolism. It is a tall marble shaft surmounted by a huge spread eagle upon whose back an American soldier in a floating attitude is holding a long sword, point downward. The eagle has just alighted from the west; the soldier comes with drawn sword to assist in bringing peace. In commemoration of the landing of American troops, this remarkable memorial stands aloft on the rock-bound coast at Saint Nazaire, France.
In the beautiful courtyard of the Pan-American Building at Washington, D. C., is a work by Mrs. Whitney in absolute harmony with the name and purpose of the structure—an Aztec Fountain. Primitive in design, simple in treatment, it might impress one as a relic of the past.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney did not take up sculpture till after the birth of her daughter, and began her art study at the New York Students' League, later with Daniel C. French and James Earl Fraser. In Paris she came under the influence of Auguste Rodin, who offered her the use of his studio and suggestions. The influence of his technique is apparent in some degree in her work, in the broad suggestiveness of treatment. The fountain of "Eldorado" is Mrs. Whitney's work.
Edith Woodman Burroughs has been very successful with portrait busts, one in particular, a strong forceful likeness of John Bigelow, the author and diplomat. This, if no others were seen, is characteristic of her method of representing personality. Mrs. Burroughs has done other big work, big from the standpoint of her outlook on life and its effects on her sitter, and unconsciously on herself, which gives her the introspection and freedom of expression in her work.
Bancroft was gifted with prophetic vision when he realized that "Westward the star of Empire takes its way," a star that has guided thousands toward the sunset land, that has proved to be the sunrise land to them.
Iowa is one of the great granary states of the country, but intellectuality finds it productive also. Genius may be a respecter of persons, but not of locality. Yet the locality will be enhanced in interest in proportion to the development of the genius.
The little town of Moulton, Iowa, was the early home of Nellie Verne Walker, one of the foremost sculptors in the United States. Like most eldest daughters in a family of six children, her time and talent were devoted to household affairs and the ordinary school. When sixteen years old, she left home duties to the younger helpers and went into her father's tombstone shop, for he was a maker of monuments. There she learned to smooth and polish marble, cut epitaphs and decorative borders; she became acquainted with the feeling and texture of stone, and the opportunity thus opened suggested other and more beautiful things than tombstones to be made from marble. She had scarcely been outside of her native town, hence had never seen a statue and had no idea of the processes of sculpture. She knew that statues could be carved from stone, and she began to dream and plan for making something out of stone.
In the shop yard there was an appealing block of marble neatly squared for a pedestal. She asked if she might have it to make into a bust of Lincoln. After a few days of diplomatic intercourse she was given the block, and with great enthusiasm began to carve the head of the great President. In twenty-four days it was done, cut directly from the picture into the stone. It was crude enough—but remember she had never seen anything she could use as model for technique; the work was hard and uncompromising, but it did look like Lincoln.
Her first success inspired her with the determination to become a sculptor. The family was friendly toward her ambition, but in spite of that, there were plenty of difficulties in the way. But the girl who persisted in her efforts to acquire that first block of marble until she got it was not to be daunted.
On the first day of the first month of the first year of the twentieth century, Nellie V. Walker arrived in Chicago to begin her career with a course at the Art Institute under Lorado Taft. Beginning as a student, it was not long before she was an assistant instructor in modeling, so between being a teacher and a pupil she spent seven or eight years at the institute.
Very naturally, a large proportion of her works were memorial pieces, and she has made a name for herself as a sculptor of monuments. Her designs are original, beautiful in proportion, while the dignity and sincerity have a remarkable appeal. She has great discrimination in choice of subject, variety in treatment and excellence in technique. Her versatility of design, which means thought, it emphasized by two monuments to the same man in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
One of Miss Walker's earlier works is the Winfield Scott Stratton memorial in their beautiful cemetery, erected 1907. The material of a work of sculpture is a large factor in the decision of its treatment. The crystalline hardness of granite demands simplicity of style. The Stratton Memorial is a rough boulder about nine feet high, the name cut in a sunken plane on the rear. In keeping with the reverse, the front is adorned with two figures emerging from the surface of the rock, partially blended into it, following its irregularly curved outlines. On the rough-finished stone between the two figures is cut the inscription, "'Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support him after." The figures illustrate this spirit of philanthropy. One erect and firmly poised reaches her hand out to the other, a younger and more slight figure with veiled face. Soft draperies fall about them in simple folds. The head of the drooping figure is bowed and suggests dependence, while the strong, fine features of the helper radiate a calm power. The firm chin, the tender mouth and steady eyes, the fine forehead—all are notes in an ideal character portrayal.
Nellie Walker's second memorial to this man of philanthropic memory was placed in Stratton Park of the same city, 1908, but repeatedhave ruined the Park, so the statue was removed to the city. It is difficult to believe that the two were designed by the same artist. The public monument is a portrait statue in bronze, which admits of more detailed treatment, but the coat and trousers of the present day do not lend readily to charming lines or picturesque folds. All the more praise, then, if the artist produces truth and beauty from the combined circumstances. The young artist did this, and gave freedom and vigor to the portrait. The overcoat has almost the swing of a mediaeval cloak, while the broad-brimmed hat held in his hand is dramatically typical of the West. He stands like a man on the brow of a hill to scan the landscape, and is a most satisfactory characterization of the man.
Miss Walker has many beautiful monuments to her credit, scattered over this wide western world, in Minneapolis and several in Michigan. One of remarkable grace and beauty is in Battle Creek, erected in 1911—the Johannes Decker monument. Against a rather low wall of light granite "Memory," a tall figure in bronze, stands with out-stretched arms hanging her laurel wreaths upon the corners of the stone against which she leans. The pose and balance are exceedingly well done, the head bowed, the eyes downcast in profound contemplation.
A recent composition by Miss Walker represents Senator Isaac Stephenson, "Pioneer, Lumberman, Statesman." An impression of sheltered intimacy is produced by the arrangement of the figure against an architectural background. Thus while framed and bounded, the seated bronze figure is in high relief. Rich drapery over the back of the chair overflows onto the granite frame, breaking any formality of line.
An incident that occurred after the unveiling of the statue is of interest, when we know that Miss Walker had never seen the man but had worked from photographs and the reading of his biography. An old employee, who had worked in Mr. Stephenson's mills for many years, went up to the statue, placed his hand on the knee and looking up into the face, said, "Well, Isaac, I see you again."
An Iowa city on the Mississippi River treasures Miss Walker's statue of its "patron saint," Chief Keokuk. On the spot where this leader of the Sac and Fox tribes held his war councils, less than a century ago, he stands in bronze, half again as large as life, looking out over the broad Father of Waters.
Quite recently Miss Walker has made a figure of more than life size—one of the finest things she has ever done—which was conceived originally to be erected on the grounds of a large hospital. The figure will, however, be used as a soldiers' memorial. It is a figure of great idealism and significance, the most fitting and perfect tribute which any institution could erect. It is the figure of a young man clean-limbed and muscular, finely developed, a thoroughbred air about him, slender yet strong. His left hand gathers folds of heavy drapery against his thigh; his right holds at arm's length before him the Torch of Life. The firm grasp of his fingers, the steadiness of that outstretched arm, are significant of steadfast purpose. The figure of "Courage" is broad and high in its symbolism.
For the expression of the ideal. Miss Walker not only touched it but exalted it in a statue that made and announced her reputation. "Her Son" has been seen in the Chicago Art Institute for a number of years, a theme that for centuries has tempted the pencil, brush, and chisel of mankind—the Mother and Child.
This might be the Madonna and her Son; it may be the interpretation of the universal spirit of motherhood. Miss Walker does not say. Yet to many minds it seems to relate itself to that day when Mary found the Child in the temple. There is a questioning in the mother's face, a wondering over the revelation of the Child's new-found wisdom; an awe as she realizes His high destiny. And the boy seems to be seeing visions with his clear eyes, seems to be putting aside the mother's hand, as He steps forth to begin His "Father's business."
Nellie Walker has accomplished some worthwhile sculptured reliefs. In the State House at Springfield, Illinois, is a bronze tablet commemorating the Illinois soldiers of the War of 1812. It depicts a young frontiersman in the costume of his day, fringed buckskin shirt and trousers and coonskin cap with the tail down his back, and with his powder horn and long rifle. Sketched lightly in the background is the picture of old Fort Dearborn, surrounded by its stockade, with its blockhouse at the corner. The romance and hardihood of the frontier days is vividly suggested.
Two huge reliefs carved in the marble facade of the new library of the Iowa State College at Ames had their problems for the artist which she mastered with skill.
Miss Walker is one of the three Chicago members of the National Sculpture Society, also a member of the Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, and of the now defunct Society of Western Artists. The Cordon Club, composed of women prominent in the professions and arts, elected her president, which position she held for three years. She is a member of the Daughters of 1812 (who were responsible for the bronze tablet in the State House at Springfield), also a Daughter of the American Revolution.
Miss Walker has other qualities by gift of nature that have combined with her early desire to cut stone, and her splendid training in technique with such a master as Lorado Taft. She has drawn on her versatile imagination for subject and composition, and then, with a directness of attack, has put vital feeling into her material, a vitality and will that supplements the will to work and produces the power we call individuality, and which forecasts even greater development for the future of her art.
For some years the art world has enjoyed the sculptural work of Anna Vaughn Hyatt. Be the work small or large, lovers of art have not only enjoyed the creations of her thought and hand, but have experienced a real interest in the development of that thought, that technique, till now, if a work is on view with her name attached, the gallery guest halts—the statue or its diminutive is eminently worth studying.
As to size, subject, harmony, truth and technique, the biggest thing Miss Hyatt has done is the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, which stands at a commanding view on Riverside Drive at Ninety-Third Street, New York City. It was made for the open, and the environment enhances the strength and dignity of the Maid of Orleans at command, done in the spirit and understanding of its creator. It is an exemplification of the fact that "it takes a woman to understand a woman," even the inspirations of a peasant girl of a far-away country and century, a far-removed condition and necessity of a people and their homes.
Who that has seen that dignified statue by Miss Hyatt, has not thought of the stupendous mental and physical work involved in the making of that serene and finished monument to art and the artist, no less than to the Maid of Orleans? The artist is serene and direct in her work, regardless of the labor entailed. To construct the frame for the heroic group, and to use for the first essay some three tons of clay, was no easy task for a woman; and to this was added the years of study for the accessories, such as armour, trappings for the horse, et cetera. A huge work, but it was a success.
Animal life has been a special study with Miss Hyatt, hence her spirited horse was from the life. A replica of the statue was in the Paris Salon and received honorable mention; it was said that had the jury known it was the work of a woman they would have given it the first prize, so remarkable is its strength and spirited handling. "Never was great art a side show, or an aftermath. It dominates or dies," has been truly said.
From viewing such a masterpiece one naturally thinks back to the girlhood of such an artist. Anna Vaughn Hyatt was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 10, 1876, the daughter of Alpheus and Audella Beebe Hyatt. She was educated in her native town at a private school. At the age of sixteen she was a pupil at the Art Students' League, New York; she studied under Herman A. MacNeil, with Gutzon Borglum and with Rodin in Paris. In 1917 Miss Hyatt was awarded the Auguste Rodin medal for sculpture. Not many of her works are monumental. A memorial is in Lancaster, New Hampshire, also one in Dayton, Ohio. Smaller statues are in the Metropolitan, Carnegie, Cleveland, Edinburgh and other museums. Miss Hyatt has a Joan of Arc in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and in Blois, France, on which was conferred honorable mention, 1910. Another, standing in the attitude of prayer, is in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York.
Many honors and prizes have come to this artist, among them the silver medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915; the same year she received from the French Government the Purple Rosette with Palm. She was awarded a gold medal from the Plastic Club, 1916; the Saltus Medal, National Academy of Design, 1920; the Legion of Honor, 1922, and was elected a National Academician in 1923.
A bronze lion stretching out and yawning proves himself in a natural mood rather than a posed model. "White Horses of the Sea" is a novel idea that Miss Hyatt worked out most gracefully. It represents a huge wave rolling in, its foam formed of the heads and manes of a phalanx of white horses. In the Gorham Gallery was seen a fountain where a nymph, holding aloft a garland of flowers, is laughing at a trio of doves perched on it; one on the brink is drinking, a dainty device.
On March 10, 1923, Miss Hyatt was married to Archer M. Huntington, LL.D., founder and president of the Hispanic Society of America.
When preparing Jackson Park to receive the World's Columbian Fair in Chicago, 1892, there was a group of capable, busy women working on the adornments for the Woman's Building before the structure was ready for them. Among them Enid Yandell, of Louisville, Kentucky, was working out her idea of supports for the entablature on the second story of the balcony. From the ancient Greeks she borrowed the idea of caryatids being the supports, and for that purpose modeled and made strong yet graceful figures which added greatly to the beauty and dignity of the facade of the building.
Enid Yandell is the daughter of Dr. Lundsford Pitts and Louise Eliston Yandell, born in Louisville, 1870. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati Art School, pupil of Philip Martiny in New York and of MacMonnies and Auguste Rodin in Paris. She was decorated at the Académié by the French Government in 1906; was awarded the Designer's Medal at Columbian Fair in 1893; has exhibited frequently at the Paris Salon since 1895; received the Silver Medal at the Nashville Exposition in 1897, honorable mention at the Pan-American in 1901, and bronze medal at St. Louis, 1904.
In 1907 Miss Yandell organized the Branstock School of Art, Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Her works have been numerous: the Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain, Providence, Rhode Island, 1900; a bust of William T. Bull, of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, 1909; a sun dial for Oliver Harriman, 1900; the Emma Willard Memorial at Albany, New York; Chancellor Garland, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; the Hogan Fountain, Louisville, also the Daniel Boone Monument. Each year she produces new work.
The states of our southwest have opened more slowly to the influence of cultural arts than have those of the northwest, owing in large measure to the topography and climatic influence of that section of the country. Art is affected by these, both in the activities and in the subjects for art. Aside from interests in, and work of, railroad construction, thanks are due to the enterprise and inspiration of pioneer painters whose art, pictorial of scenes, Indians and their habitats, broadcast a translation of primitive America to modern civilization, such art serving as a record for the future.
Julia Bracken was born in Illinois, but from early childhood the sun, the wind, the freedom and broad stretches of mountain and plain have surrounded her, wooed and won her as completely as did the great landscape painter whose name is irrevocably linked with hers. Her studies were at the Art Institute, Chicago, under instruction of Lorado Taft. She had two inherent gifts that have made her the artist she is—the power to see, both objects and opportunity, and the power to use them, to make them her own.
She was only twenty when the Columbian Fair began to spring up all over Jackson Park; when water channels began to form islands and fairy-like bridges spanned the lagoons, and steel skeletons began to grow their outer covering of staff. Then it was that the young woman saw her opportunity and took hold, saw in the mass of material and scaffolds possibilities which her co-workers did not dream her capable of putting forth. However, her masters were quick to discover the mental gift that guided her hands, and she was given every opportunity to exercise her ability to the fullest degree of execution. It was her idea of placing against the pilasters on the upper balcony of the Woman's Building carved figures typifying the attributes of woman, and it was she who carried it into execution, even to superintending the raising of those great caryatids to their high pedestals when the workmen were baffled at the great difficulties. Another important World's Fair group by this young woman was "Illinois' Welcome to the Nations." This fine conception now stands in the State Capitol at Springfield.
For the St. Louis Fair of 1904, this sculptor was commissioned the statue of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States. An Eastern writer of note said of it: "Miss Bracken has made many fine portrait busts, and not a few statues, but the simplicity of the man standing in close coat and knee breeches, his hand resting on a pedestal which supports a globe, is well managed and dignified. This work will be one of a collection of statues of important men which is to enrich the front of the Hall of Fame at St. Louis. Miss Bracken is the only woman whose sculpture will find a place in this Pantheon. Her work honors Woman, and more, it honors Sculpture."
A splendid portrait relief of Emerson is one of her strongest, as is also one of Perez Hastings Field, another of Charles R. Crane, of Chicago, and many others.
Other works are a "Young Pan," a "Nymph" gracefully kneeling toward a water-course of which she would drink from one hand, the other holding back her waving hair as she bends forward.
A strong work, though small, represents "Napoleon in Exile." The great man is sunken deeply in his chair, while he contemplates a small globe of the world which he holds in his hands. The futility of personal ambition was never more wonderfully portrayed.
"The Tree of Life" is a design for a holy water font, full of potent suggestion and deep religious sentiment.
A friend says, "This sculptor believes that all art should be spontaneous, and that it should come from the emotion or thought of the artist, who should never force himself to work at it when the creative impulse is not there. The true artist does not make art his main business in life, for if he does he becomes narrow, one-sided, thrown out of all sympathy with the Divine Realities."
Mrs. Went has modeled for her art from the bronze-like children of sun and sand, and cast into bronze playfellows, descendants perhaps, of the one-time cliff dwellers.
Julia Bracken Went has long been a member of the Chicago Society of Artists, and the Municipal Art League of Chicago; also of the Federation Art Association and the Three Arts Club of Los Angeles, California. Her awards and prizes have been many: The Municipal Art League of Chicago, 1898 and 1905; a gold medal, Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1915. A sculptural group of Art, Science and History in the Los Angeles Museum of Art is one of her latest and best. Mrs. Went is also an instructor in the Otis Art Institute at Los Angeles.
Bessie Potter Vonnah has contributed much to the enjoyment of thousands of people who appreciate her inimitable groups in plaster and bronze. Her subjects and handling are dainty, natural and graceful. During war times the writer chanced on a group representing Motherhood. It was small, but came in answer to a clarion call of an acute, urgent need sounding in the ears of womanhood and manhood everywhere. It was the tonic diapason of war—and the dominant note, "Help! Help!" from the Red Cross sounded continually, and continually humanity responded according to its ability. About two hundred artists flocked to a Fifth Avenue House placing their art works on the altar of mercy, and among the canvases, water colors, pastels and plastic works stood the significant group, "Motherhood." The mother, standing, holds the baby close in her left arm, her right hand on the shoulder of a winsome little maid of four or five, who clasps the hand of a younger sister as both stand in front of their mother. The ease and grace of the group is delightful, the faces of the children sweet, the face of the mother sad and thoughtful. Viewing it conjured a background of thought, of question—Where in France is the father?
At the Paris Salon, 1900, Mrs. Vonnah was given a medal for a group, "A Young Mother." At the St. Louis Exposition, 1904, she had a case of statuettes, among them a "Dancing Girl," "A Creeping Baby," "A Portrait Relief" and others. The Panama-Pacific Exhibition had a room exclusively of woman's work, wherein was seen an interesting collection of the art of Mrs. Vonnah in little. "Enthroned," "Maidenhood," and "Youth" were phases of real life attractive to old and young, while scattered through other galleries, by way of adornment, one came upon "The Intruder," "Butterflies," "Grecian Draperies," and the most dainty "Pond Lilies."
As Bessie Potter, the pupil in this dainty phase of sculpture studied at the Chicago Art Institute with Lorado Taft, and like most of his pupils, had the ambition to accomplish worthwhile things, which she has done with her innate ability.
Janet Scudder is another of those successful sculptors who has enjoyed "working" through all the processes and years from mud pies to clay birds and figures, up and on to bronze and marble things of beauty, for the rest of the world to enjoy. Sprightly fauns and dancing nymphs, water babes, and sportive dolphins come out into the world from her studio, to take their places on velvet lawns, seemingly to play at peek-a-boo with the sunlight and shadow amid the trees. Some in fountains splash and play and spatter lilies and lotus and the breeze with spray. In someone's garden a maiden stands holding a birdbath in both her hands, and, unafraid, birds flutter in and flirt with the water with head and wing.
Yes, Miss Scudder had to learn how to do it, so she went from Terre Haute, Indiana, where she was born, in 1873, and became a pupil under Rebisso, in the Cincinnati Art Academy; and having acquired technical knowledge, she did the rest. That included study in Europe to the progress of her art, till she was the first woman whose sculpture was bought for the Luxembourg Gallery.
Harriet W. Freshmuth is a strong worker in the round, as might be expected from one whose study was mostly with the great Rodin and Gutzon Borglum.
Edith B. Parsons, though the mother of a family, has done much with sculptures from animal life. Her work is spontaneous and, partaking of her spirit, the modeled animals look ready for an instantaneous change.
Carrol Brooks MacNiel has devoted her art to small creatures and people, much of it in the humorous and playful spirit, and all exquisitely modeled.
Edith Freeman Sherman, a graduate from the Chicago Art Institute, under Lorado Taft, has carried on her work while caring for a growing family. She has taught for three years in the American College at Honolulu, Hawaii, while her husband was president. She has several portrait busts and groups to her credit, and still continues modeling in clay and developing the character of three fine children.
During the month of May, 1915, an exhibition of original sculpture was held by American women at the Gorham Galleries, New York. For the sake of noting progress during the interim, we quote a little from the report:
"Of the life-size portrait busts shown, Gail Sherman Corbett's was the most important. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney showed an excellent study of a head in marble. Janet Scudder was represented by a bronze girl with a fish, it being one of her fountain series. Edith Burroughs' "Water Baby" is also a fountain, the child beautifully modeled. Laura Gardin Frazier exhibited the most successful of all, a table fountain unusual in conception and execution. The figure of the bashful little child is charming, naive and original in character, while the decorative bas-relief on the pedestal is well modeled. Among other designs was a mare and foal by Helen Morton, and a lioness and cubs by Elizabeth Norton. Stina Gustafson's Celtic Memorial Cross was impressive. Another fountain was "A Girl and a Dolphin," by Harriett Frishmuth, and was one of the most successful of the large subjects. One of the dainty things was a Bird Bath by Caroline P. Ball, and the wish went out that every garden might have one."
The Chicago Art Institute has a beautiful piece of sculpture by Helen B. Robinson-Ingles called Inspiration. The group shows Inspiration standing back of the young girl, whispering into her mind as she touches her hands. An earnest thought prompts her to rise, but inspiration interferes.
Both faces are sweet and earnest while the ensemble is grace itself. The marble is beautifully carved to show light and shade.
- Excerpt from The American Magazine of Art.