Anna Hyatt Huntington

1876Cambridge, United States | 1973Paris, France

American sculptor.

As the daughter of a professor of palaeontology and zoology at Harvard and a landscape painter and the sister of a sculptor, Anna Vaughn Hyatt took an early interest in animal sculpture. She briefly studied at the Art Students League in New York. Her naturalist bronzes tended to depict domestic and wild animals – horses, dogs, deer, bears, and monkeys, in battle or at play – with a psychological depth evoked by their physical dispositions. They quickly made her well-known. Her work, in line with the canon of the genre, exhibits impeccable anatomical precision developed through numerous preparatory drawings. However, the artist allowed herself some light formal simplification, which can be seen in Reaching Jaguar (1906–1907). In 1910, she showed her best-known work, Joan of Arc, at the Salon de Paris. It was the first monumental equestrian sculpture created by a woman, and won an honourable mention.

In 1915 a monumental version of her statue was inaugurated on Riverside Drive in New York City. The sculptor explored the genre in ways that were sometimes heroic (Cid Campeador, 1927) and sometimes more driven by pathos (Don Quixote, 1947). Given the symbolic place that monumental equestrian statue occupied in the world of sculpture, the work was a remarkable challenge. Orders came flowing in, and she became considerably wealthy from her art. In 1923, she married the philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington. The garden of their estate in South Carolina was designed as an open-air sculpture museum, where the artist, having become a patron of the arts, showed the work of more than 200 American sculptors in addition to her own. At the time, she was the only female sculptor to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which paid tribute to her in 1936 with a show in New York of 170 of her works. She remained prolific despite health problems later in life, and was notable for sculpting in aluminium, a material that was little used at the time.

Anne Lepoittevin

Translated from French by Eamon Drumm.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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