Bronze with green-brown patina
Purchased through the Mrs. Harvey P. Hood W'18 Fund; S.991.35
In the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Manship was America’s most famous art deco sculptor, known for streamlined small bronzes, medals, garden statuary, and such large-scale work as his gilded bronze fountain sculpture Prometheus (1933-38), the focal point of Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Lyric Muse is the most important of Manship’s early works, produced in Rome shortly before he returned to the United States in 1912. It reflects his interest in developing a stylized sculptural manner that emphasizes broad planes, smooth surfaces, and a linear articulation of the surface—all elements that would characterize his mature art deco work. At the same time it represents his awareness of the art of Archaic Greece and the Near East, as well as the new, more planar style of contemporary European sculptors. The sculpture likely represents the muse Erato, one of the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who inspired lyric love poetry and mime. Here she opens her mouth in song and extends her arms, preparing to stroke the lyre, her emblem. Her pose, with head facing forward and legs viewed in profile, derives from Greek and Etruscan art, as do her stylized facial features and hair, held in place with a fillet. In contrast to the contained stillness of her lower body, her open mouth, twisted torso, and outreaching arms give a sense of vitality and movement. Prominent art collector and author Paul Magriel (1906-1990) formerly owned this cast, which is from an edition of fifteen. Because of Manship’s friendship with Cornish art colony artists Barry Faulkner and Charles A. Platt, he spent the summers of 1915 through 1917 and 1927 in Cornish, New Hampshire, and he exhibited four pieces in the 1916 Dartmouth College exhibition of the Cornish colony.
Last Updated: 5/13/09