Saturday, October 27, 2012

Janet Scudder

(1869–1940), sculptor known for her joyous and amusing fountains; one of the most popular sculptors of her time

Janet Scudder was born Netta Deweze Frazee Scudder in Terre Haue, Indiana, in 1969. She adopted the name Janet while studying at the Cincinnati Academy of Art. At the academy she studied anatomy, drawing, and modeling. In 1891 she moved to Chicago and became an assistant to the sculptor Lorado Taft, who was preparing for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. By helping him create sculptures from scale models, Scudder gained valuable training in what would become her chosen career: sculpting. She showed great talent and was commissioned to make the statues for the Indiana and Illinois buildings at the fair.
The exposition also gave Scudder the opportunity to see a fountain erected by Frederick MacMonnies, an artist who would deeply influence her career. Later that year she traveled to his Paris studio with a letter of introduction and convinced him to let her study under him.
In 1894 she returned to the United States. She lived in New York, supporting herself by fulfilling commissions for portrait medallions and architectural ornamentation. In 1896 she returned to Paris, where the Luxembourg Museum bought several of her medallions. She discovered her true life’s work, however, on a trip to Florence. She found herself thoroughly beguiled by the works of Donatello and Verrocchio and she was brought full circle back to MacMonnies’ fountain.  She immediately embarked on a career producing playful garden statues.
Frog Fountain,
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Her first work, “Frog Fountain,” is also her most famous. It was purchased by architect Stanford White. Scudder spent several years in New York, fulfilling commissions from wealthy figures such as John D. Rockefeller and producing a copy of “Frog Fountain” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After several years she returned to Paris to live and work, although she made several extended stays back in the U.S.
Scudder participated in both the women’s movement and relief work. She supported suffrage through the National American Woman Suffrage Association. When World War I erupted she returned to the United States, founding the relief organization the Lafayette Fund and working with the Red Cross and the YMCA.

Tortoise Fountain

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