Frederick William MacMonnies, American, 1863 - 1937
Jaboeuf & Rouard, Fondeurs, Paris
1890 (cast 1894)
Overall: 18 9/16 × 11 13/16 × 11 1/4 in. (47.2 × 30 × 28.5 cm)
Base: 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Jane and W. David Dance, Class of 1940
Place Made: United States, North America
Not on view
Signed and dated, on base, behind figure: F. MacMonnies / 1890 Copyright / 1894; circular foundry mark: JACOEUF & ROUARD / FONDEURS / PARIS / 10 & 12 / R. DE / l'AISLE POPINCOURT
At the time Frederick MacMonnies modeled this work, one of his earliest, he had already apprenticed with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and was an assistant in the Paris studio of Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguiѐre. Falguière had a profound and lasting influence on the younger artist, and Falguière's Diana (1882) was an important prototype for this work.
MacMonnies's life-size plaster Diana won him an honorable mention at the 1889 Paris Salon, and its critical acclaim helped to launch his career. In it he captured the goddess's fluid prance as she touches down on one foot and extends her lithe arms, having just released an arrow. The sculpture's blend of decorative refinement and naturalism ensured its continued popularity through the production of this reduced bronze format and another version that was just over thirty inches tall.
Long a favored artistic motif, the mythological huntress and goddess of the moon resurfaced as a popular subject among late nineteenth-century European and American sculptors. The theme provided an opportunity to sculpt an idealized female nude in motion—a nude further legitimized through her ties to classical mythology and revered Renaissance prototypes. Other Beaux-Arts artists who modeled her included Antonin Mercié, Paul Jean-Baptiste Gasq, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The latter's famous thirteen-foot Diana (1892-93) originally graced the top of Madison Square Garden in New York.
MacMonnies went on to create a number of lighthearted life-size fountain figures for country residences, as well several bronze statuettes and large-scale sculptures and public monuments, including his enduring Bacchante and Infant Faun (1893, Metropolitan Museum of Art), which initially drew criticism for its indecorous nudity and perceived endorsement of drunkenness.|
As one of the most celebrated sculptors of the 19th century, Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière was particularly noted for his realistic sculptures of female nudes. His subject here is Diana, the Roman goddess of light, mountains, woods, and the hunt. She is also known as the virgin goddess who was the protector of women and childbirth. Here she poses with her bow as if preparing to shoot an arrow. On her head she bears a crescent, a reference to her personification of the moon. The figure’s provocative naturalism was much debated by art critics of the period, many of whom considered it too particularized and contemporary. A student of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Falguière exhibited in every official Salon in Paris from 1863 until his death in 1900. His reputation as a sculptor and designer of public monuments was international.
At the time Frederick MacMonnies modeled his Diana, one of his earliest works, he was an assistant in the Paris studio of Falguière. Falguière had a profound and lasting influence on the younger artist, and Falguière’s Diana (1882) was an important prototype for MacMonnie’s own version of this goddess.
MacMonnies’s life-size plaster Diana brought him international acclaim, winning him an honorable mention at the 1889 Paris Salon. In it he captures the goddess’s fluid prance as she touches down on one foot and extends her lithe arms, having just released an arrow.
In comparing these two related works, what do you perceive to be the similarities in their depiction of the goddess? What differences do you see? Do you notice specific cultural qualities that identify them as either French or American?
From the 2019 exhibition Emulating Antiquity: Nineteenth-Century European Sculpture, curated by Katherine W. Hart, Senior Curator of Collections and Barbara C. & Harvey P. Hood 1918 Curator of Academic Programming
CLST 4, Classical Mythology, Pramit Chaudhuri, Summer 2014
American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.
American Viewpoints: Painting and Sculpture from the Hood Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego, California, May 5-August 31, 2003.
Constructing Gender: Works from the Hood Museum of Art's Collection, 1500 to the Present, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, ARTH 2, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 28-April 22, 2012.
Critical Faculties: Teaching with the Hood's Collections, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 15-March 13, 2005.
Cultural Exchange, the Body, and Art and Technology, Art History 2, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 25-March 9, 2003.
Diana in Late Nineteenth Century Sculpture, Wellesley College Museum, Wellesley, Massachusetts, November 3- December 31, 1989.
Emulating Antiquity: Nineteenth-century European Sculpture, Engles Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-February 16, 2020.
Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 21, 1992-May 23, 1995.
Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, March 26, 1996-June 22, 1997.
Israel Sack Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 16, 1997-April 18, 2001.
Representing Myth: The Classical Tradition in Western Art, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 11-August 17, 1995.
The Beauty of the Bronze: Selections from the Hood Museum of Art, Gene Y. Kim Class of 1985 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 13, 2012-March 18, 2014.
Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 120, no. 93.
Sotheby's New York, Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Sale Sale No. 5463, Lot 224; Conner-Rosenkranz, New York,1988, Paul Magriel (1906-1990); Robert Dance, Inc., New York; Jane (1922-2007) and W. David Dance (1917-2012); given to present collection, 1992.
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