Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, 1880-1980) The Vine, 1921 Bronze with brown and green patina Height: 11.5 inches (29.2 cm) high on a 3/4 inches (1.9 cm) high marble base Inscribed along base: © 1921 / Harriet W. Frishmuth Stamped with foundry mark along base: GORHAM CO. FOUNDERS / QBWS
Brookgreen Gardens, The Sculpture of Harriet Frishmuth, Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, n.p., 1937, another example illustrated; C.N. Aronson, Sculptured Hyacinths, New York, 1973, p. 127, another example illustrated; J. Conner and J. Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works from 1893-1939, Austin, Texas, 1989, p. 38, another example illustrated;
C.S. Rubinstein, American Woman Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions, Boston, Massachusetts, 1990, p. 155, another example illustrated;
J. Conner, L.R. Lehmbeck, T. Tolles, F.L. Hohmann III, Capture Motion: The Sculpture of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, New York, 2006, pp. 59, 150-51, 240, another example illustrated.
Condition: Presents beutifully. Minor rubbing to areas of high relief. Light verdigris in areas of recess. Fine surface abrasions commensurate with light handling.
female figure standing on the balls of her feet, projecting her body forward, her head held dramatically backwards, all the while in perfect balance, and how she activates the space around her. Her only prop is a vine that flows from her left fingernails to her right hand wrapped behind her head. Her nude body is athletic and strong, although she looks as pliant as the vine. From afar, her body draws a curve, a single line that runs from her feet, well-anchored in the ground, to the top of her head, emphasizing her elongated jaw. This sculpture captures a fleeting action that seems quite natural at first, but, is it really? What does this work tell us about the sculpted body, and its relationship with other forms of modern art, such as dance?
A well-traveled artist, Frishmuth had studied sculpture in Paris under French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) in the early 1900s, at a time when sculptors were particularly inspired by new forms of choreography. Desha Delteil, the model who posed for The Vine, was a dancer with the Fokine Ballet, created in 1913, with the goal of liberating the body from the academic conventions of the traditional ballet practice where the emphasis of the movement was restricted to the lower body. Photographs by Arnold Genthe housed in the Library of Congress, show Desha Delteil holding the pose as in The Vine, although she is not using any props here.
Conceived first as a statuette in Frishmuth’s studio in New York City, The Vine became the artist’s most commercially successful work, with an edition of 396 casts. The National Academy of Design awarded it the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize for the best work by an American woman.
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