The LACMA Assorted Art page contains images of sculptures, paintings and decorative art
from the Ahmanson Gallery, compiled from several visits to the LA County Museum of Art.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art Index

Assorted Art: Sculptures, Paintings and Decorative Art
Asian and Middle Eastern Art and the Pharaohs of the Sun
LACMA Sculpture Garden: Rodin, Bourdelle and Kolbe
Exteriors: Architecture, Wildlife and La Brea Tar Pits


LACMA Ahmanson Gallery 3140

The monumental staircase in the Ahmanson Building, taken from the second floor gallery.


Story Cleopatra 3084

Cleopatra, William Wetmore Story, United States,
modeled 1858, carved 1860, marble on polychrome wood platform

Cleopatra made Story’s reputation and set the standards for the second phase of American neoclassical sculpture. Story had planned to begin a compositional study for it during the winter of 1856-57 but only started the clay model during the winter of 1858. The carving of Cleopatra in marble was not completed until December 1860, but the statue was inscribed with an 1858 date to commemorate the commencement of work. When he could had not attract any buyers for the work over the next several years, Story contemplated abandoning the profession.

Pope Pius IX sent, at his expense, Cleopatra and Story’s Libyan Sibyl (1860) to the 1862 International Exhibition in London along with several other sculptures by artists residing in Italy. Cleopatra was an immediate success, receiving favorable reviews from several newspapers and periodicals, including the London Athenaeum, which rated it, along with the Libyan Sibyl, as the most important sculpture in the exhibition. As a result, Story found a buyer for Cleopatra. The sculpture remained in the family, lost to public attention until 1978, when it was bought by the museum. This marble is the only example of the first of three versions created by the sculptor. About 1863-64 Story created a second version by slightly altering details of the original design. In 1884, he revised his idea a third time to design a reclining Cleopatra; it is unknown if this version was ever carved in marble.


Story Cleopatra 3115

The fame of Cleopatra is due not only to its reception in 1862 but also to the frequency with which the Metropolitan Museum’s sculpture has been discussed and reproduced in the literature on Story; the best-known example, it has often been mistaken for the first version. The difference between the Los Angeles Museum’s and the Metropolitan Museum’s sculptures are subtle yet significant. They represent the sculptor’s reinterpretation of the theme and his turn to a more naturalistic style, one that was favored by the second generation of neoclassical sculptors.

Julian Hawthorne discussed the artist’s quandary over the gesture of Cleopatra’s left hand: "I remember very well the statue of Cleopatra while yet in clay... Cleopatra was substantially finished, but Story was unwilling to let her go, and had no end of doubts as to the handling of minor details. The hand that rests on her knee: should the forefinger and thumb meet or be separated? If they were separated, it meant the relaxation of despair; if they met, she was still meditating defiance or revenge. After canvassing the question at great length with my father (Nathaniel Hawthorne), he decided that they should meet; but when I saw the marble statue in the Metropolitan Museum the other day I noticed that they were separated." Hawthorne obviously saw the model for the first version in the studio: in the Los Angeles marble the thumb and forefinger are touching.


Story Cleopatra 4536

Story exaggerated the relaxed posture of the figure and changed the drapery in the second version. In the Los Angeles Cleopatra the left breast is partially exposed, with the drapery hanging in an unnatural but decorous manner; in the Metropolitan Museum’s example Cleopatra’s left breast is fully exposed, her garment falling from her shoulder more naturally. Other differences in the details between the two versions might be attributed to the growing interest in the Near East that took place in Europe and America during the second half of the nineteenth century. In the Metropolitan Museum’s figure Story gave the Egyptian queen a slightly more African physiognomy, perhaps to suggest an Eastern sensuality. Story also changed the details of the base from a simple, classical, rectangular design to one with Eastern arches.


Story Cleopatra 8084

The exoticism of Cleopatra is most obvious in the figure’s jewelry and demonstrates just how typical of the nineteenth century the sculpture is. During the mid-1860s the artist had the opportunity of visiting in Paris an exhibition of ancient Egyptian jewelry and other artifacts. Although Story was praised for the authenticity of the Eastern jewelry, Cleopatra’s accoutrements were a modern fabrication based on some familiarity with, but not an accurate understanding of, ancient artifacts. While Story’s figure wears the Egyptian nemes (headcloth), the cloth is not flat as in those worn by the Ptolemaic pharaohs nor is the uraeus (rearing cobra) positioned correctly. Story’s Cleopatra wears two bracelets, a snake band whose ends do not spiral in the same configuration as ancient jewelry, and a bracelet of authentic scarabs in a Victorian setting.

The reworking of ancient motifs is also apparent in the chair. In his fascination with the decorative detail of other eras Story was a typically Victorian artist. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun (1860) was a fictionalized account of Story’s creation of the first version of Cleopatra. It and the later publication of the writer’s journals were partly responsible for the sculpture’s reputation. Hawthorne, who was a friend of Story’s in Rome, witnessed the creation of the statue almost from the start. Visiting Story in 1858 only 14 days after he had commenced work on the sculpture, Hawthorne wrote in his journal, "The statue of Cleopatra... is a grand subject, and he is conceiving it with depth and power... He certainly is sensible of something deeper in his art than merely to make nudities and baptize them by classic names."


Story Cleopatra 8085

The type of subject matter Story preferred might have been encouraged by his friendship with Hawthorne, for like the author, Story was intrigued by heroes caught in intense psychological drama. Unlike other American neoclassical sculptors, Story was fascinated with mythical and historical heroines, such as Medea and Delilah, whose fates were determined by their personalities. Cleopatra was the first of several statues he made of such women. Story often depicted his heroines seated and brooding, inspired by the powerful seated prophet figures of Michelangelo, whom he greatly admired.


Deare Judgment of Jupiter 3091

Judgment of Jupiter, John Deare (England, active in Rome), Rome, 1786-1787, marble relief

John Deare, an English sculptor who spent his entire professional career in Rome, was commissioned by the Royal Academy to make this relief for an exhibition in 1787. In style and subject matter it reflects the neoclassical taste for perfection. The philosophers of the Age of Reason believed that man and society, through the systematic study and emulation of classical learning and arts, could return to a Golden Age paralleling that of classical antiquity. Deare's relief embodies this ideal.


Deare Judgment of Jupiter 3093

Deare's scene is from Homer's Iliad, a literary source for which contemporary archaeological discoveries had created renewed interest. The enthroned Jupiter sits among the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (at left), to which all except the goddess of discord, Eris, were invited. The spiteful Eris tossed a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest" among the guests, and Minerva, Juno, and Venus each claimed it. Jupiter, refusing to pick the most beautiful of this formidable trio, has handed the apple to his messenger, Mercury, who flies above, giving him instructions to pass it, and the thankless task, to the mortal prince, Paris. Deare represents the three goddesses challenging Jupiter. Paris's decision will ultimately lead to the Trojan War, here evoked by Mars, god of war, shown at the far right. Deare's carving varies from nearly flat background figures to others almost completely in the round, a Renaissance technique that gives the illusion of three-dimensional space. The forms of the bodies are idealized, smooth, and refined. This is the most important English neoclassical relief in the United States.


Cheere Capitoline Flora 3097

The Capitoline 'Flora',
John Cheere, England, 1767, painted plaster


Cheere Capitoline Isis 3100

The Capitoline 'Isis',
John Cheere, England, 1767, painted plaster

John Cheere made these copies of the Capitoline Flora and Capitoline Isis for Croome Court in Worcestershire in 1767.
He made a number of copies of sculptures in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, often casting in lead for placement in gardens.

The antique marble originals of the Capitoline Flora and Isis (117-138 AD) were found at Hadrian’s Villa near Tivoli.

Flora was a minor Roman nature goddess of Spring and Flowers. Her festival, the Floralia, symbolized the renewal of life and was first held in 240 BC. A rendering of the Floralia can be seen in Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s Spring (1894, Getty Museum). The original is identified as Flora by the crown of flowers, but this was sculpted by the restorers so the identification is debated.

Isis was an ancient Egyptian goddess of magic and nature, sister/wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, who was also an important goddess in the Greco-Roman world after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, identified with Demeter and Aphrodite.


Cheere Capitoline Isis 8102


Feuchere Satan 3222

At left, detail of Cheere’s copy of the Capitoline Isis, showing the characteristic knot in her garment. Egyptians considered knots to have magical powers, and one specific knot in the shape of an ankh (the Tyet) was the Knot of Isis in heiroglyphics. In her right hand she holds a sistrum, a percussion instrument sacred to Isis.

Satan, Jean-Jacques Feuchère, France, c. 1836, bronze

Far from being a repulsive monster, Feuchère's Satan has a very human appearance, with a muscular body and a face whose pensive sadness arouses pity more than disapproval. It is similar to Delacroix's 1827 drawing Mephistopheles in the Air, used to illustrate Goethe's Faust. Satan is sitting enveloped in his wings, his chin resting in the palm of the hand with the left elbow on his thigh and holding his broken sword in his right hand.  As with many of the Romantic sculptors, Feuchère drew inspiration from literary works such as Dante's Inferno, Milton's Paradise Lost and Goethe's Faust. He also owned a copy of Dürer's famous engraving of Melancolia. Feuchère's detail was also inspired by medieval gargoyles, with the horned head, hooked nose, oversized ears, clawed feet, the scaled ridge similar to a reptilian backbone atop the head, etc.

Satan was first exhibited in plaster at the Salon in 1833, and then in bronze in 1835 (now in the Musée de Douai). The image of the seated melancholic creature, biting his nails and with dejected stare, was singled out for special praise by critics, and may have even influenced later artists and work such as Carpeaux's Ugolin and Rodin's Thinker. It is considered one of the iconic representations of 19th century French sculpture prior to Rodin due to the superb craftsmanship and its original composition.


MacMonnies Young Faun and Heron 3134


MacMonnies Young Faun and Heron 8077

Young Faun and Heron, Frederick MacMonnies, United States, modeled 1890; copyrighted 1894, bronze

MacMonnies originally modeled this group in 1890 as a lifesize statue for a fountain for a country house in Massachusetts. The statue was to be set into an exterior niche, the shape of the niche determining the curve of the bird’s wings. The intensity with which the details of the bird’s feathers are observed resemble the character of quattrocento sculpture. The forms of boy and bird are brought into close combination by the way the boy’s left arm follows the curve of the wing and his right arm is entwined with the bird’s curving neck. The large curve of his arms is set in equilibrium to the curve of the wings. The play of forms and sense of movement contribute to the sense of liveliness that was characteristic of MacMonnies’s sculptures of the early 1890s.


Niehaus Silenus 4544


Niehaus Silenus 3131

Silenus, Charles Henry Niehaus, United States, c. 1883; cast c. 1901, bronze

Niehaus had used his savings from his work as a stonecarver to go to Munich to study and used the proceeds of his first important commissions to return to Europe, spending two years in Rome where he modeled numerous figure studies in the style of the antique. Of these apparently experimental works, three survived: Caestus, The Scraper (Greek Athlete Using a Strigil), and this Silenus. During the 1880s a naturalistic trend culminated in such extreme manifestations as casts from life and tinted sculptures. A reaction among the younger artists led them to the simpler, stronger sculpture of antiquity, which they felt was animated by its coherent expression of the mechanism of movement. The three surviving antique figures from Niehaus’s years in Rome show that he sought a simpler, more powerful style in which organic movement and balance defined the figure.

In Greek mythology, Silenus was the foster father and tutor of Dionysus and leader of the satyrs, traditionally depicted as a fat, drunken old man, usually without goat’s legs and tail but with the pointed ears, upturned nose, and full beard of a satyr, and with heavy brows and high, full cheeks. An earlier (probably original) version of Silenus has these traditional features derived from ancient prototypes, which are absent from the this cast except for the pointed ears. The earlier version differs in a few other details and in a finer, more naturalistic overall modeling. The pose, recalling the famous Dancing Faun from Pompeii, remained the same. What appears to be a cast of this earlier version appears in a painting: Inquisitive (1893), by Louis Charles Moeller.


Niehaus Silenus 8074


Niehaus Silenus 8075

Detail of Niehaus’ Silenus, shot at a wide aperture from close range with a 28mm lens.


Beach River’s Return to the Sea 3126

The River's Return to the Sea, Chester Beach, United States, 1906, marble

This sculpture was done while Beach was studying in Paris, first at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and then with Raoul Verlet at the Academie Julian. In 1905 he took the Gold Medal at Academie Julian, just before sculpting this work. He returned to New York the following year and established himself as a perceptive modeler of allegorical and mythological figures. Primarily known for medals and busts, he also created a number of full figures and public sculpture such as the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac and the Fountain of Waters, both on the South Lawn at the Cleveland Museum of Art.


Barthe Inner Music 3137


Hoffman Column of Life 8078

Inner Music, Richmond Barthé, United States, 1956, bronze

Richmond Barthé is recognized as one of the foremost sculptors of his generation and was one of the pioneers in depicting African Americans. Following his graduation from The Art Institute of Chicago in 1928, Barthé moved to New York and established a studio in Harlem where he became associated with the Harlem Renaissance. He experienced considerable early success, but the tense environment and rampant violence in New York City after World War II drove him out in 1947, and at the peak of his career he moved to Jamaica where he flourished until the armed gangs of the mid-1960s, reminiscent of the violence which drove him from New York City caused him to leave. Inner Music was sculpted while the artist was in Jamaica, during a period when he was creating public works such as the equestrian bronze of Dessalines in Port-au-Prince, his 40 foot tall Toussaint L'Ouverture, and other heroic sculptures as well as designing a number of Haitian coins which are still in use. Barthé's work often emphasized movement, and he did not use models, creating his sculptures based on study drawings.

Column of Life, Malvina Hoffman, United States, 1917, bronze

In her autobiography, Heads and Tales, Hoffman recounted the genesis of Column of Life:

I was kept waiting a long time for Rodin to arrive. I took two small bits of clay and rolled them absentmindedly into two pieces about five inches long. These I pressed together in my closed hand, and studying the result was amazed to find that the pressure of my fingers had clearly suggested the forms of two standing figures. I added the two heads and was tapping the base on the stone step to make it stand up, when Rodin appeared. He asked me what I was doing and I showed him the little group. "Just an accident," I said, "made while I was waiting for you." After carefully examining it from all sides, he said very seriously, "There is more in this than you understand at present... You will keep this, and model this group one-half life-size and cut it in marble, but before you do it, you must study for five years." In 1912 the clay model was made into a seal five inches high and cast in bronze, with about 128 lifetime casts and five posthumous ones. Following Rodin’s advice, Hoffman did not translate the idea of the lovers into a larger scale until about 1917, when she carved two marble examples. Bronzes were not produced until even later.

Column of Life exemplifies the strong influence of Rodin on Hoffman during her early years as a sculptor. Rodin created many marbles of lovers embracing, usually presenting the couples as if their bodies were melted together and they had just emerged from the roughly hewn block of stone. Hoffman treated her lovers in a similar manner, also modeling the surface in soft, flowing passages in a manner similar to the sketchy surfaces of Rodin’s sculptures. Such a handling intensified the sensual quality of the theme.


Ball Henry Clay 3089


Ball Henry Clay 8090

Henry Clay, Thomas Ball, United States, modeled 1858, bronze

Thomas Ball’s first success as a sculptor was his cabinet-sized bust of the "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind, which he modeled in 1851. He was overwhelmed by the demand for plaster copies of his bust. Although he had procured a patent for his design, eventually it was pirated and the market flooded with replicas. This was the period when American artists began to exploit the expanding middle-class market for inexpensively reproduced images that absorbed the lithographs from the firm of Currier and Ives. Early in this trend and at the upper end of quality, Thomas Ball’s Daniel Webster and Henry Clay have the distinction of having been the first volume-cast art bronzes produced in this country. Their large editions and their medium of bronze both reflect the towering stature of the two great statesmen, Webster, the Yankee orator of legendary ability, and Clay, the idolized senator, secretary of state, and three-time presidential candidate. Both of the great men died in 1852.


Ball Daniel Webster 7443

Daniel Webster, Thomas Ball, United States, modeled 1853, bronze

Although they were among the very first sculptures to be cast in bronze in this country, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay belong in style to the neoclassical movement that dominated American sculpture until well past the middle of the last century. Like the white marbles or plasters of that movement, they are compact, with simple, polished surfaces. They even retain the truncated pillar brought next to a marble figure to help support the weight of the stone but which is not necessary with highly ductile bronze and in these cases was cast separately. Their classicism, though, is the more detailed and realistic later phase of the style.


Bissell Bust of Lincoln 3119


Bissell Bust of Lincoln 3117

Bust of Lincoln, George E. Bissell, United States, 1895-1900, bronze

George Edwin Bissell sculpted a full-size bronze of Abraham Lincoln “The Emancipator” in 1893 for the Lincoln Memorial in Edinburgh, Scotland before creating this bust based on his studies of contemporary works by painters and photographers. He produced a number of busts in the Beaux-Arts aesthetic in various sizes based upon his Emancipator sculpture, which was placed in the Old Calton Burial Ground by the graves of Scots who died in the Civil War. The Emancipation group was the first Lincoln bronze to be placed outside of the United States, and there was great interest in busts derived from the sculpture.


Bissell Bust of Lincoln 8080


Bissell Bust of Lincoln 8082

Besides the long series of busts and statues he made to fill the demand for replicas of his Emancipator sculpture, Bissell was commissioned to create a full-size bronze duplicate, which was placed in Lincoln Square in Clermont, Iowa. Bissell represented Lincoln with downcast eyes and an introspective expression, the burdened leader of a nation torn by Civil War.


Rodin Paolo and Francesca 3199

Paolo and Francesca, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1887-1889, this cast 1972 (Musée Rodin 1/12)

Dante, in the Inferno, meets Paolo Malatesta and Francesca de Rimini. Francesca explained that their love began innocently while they were “reading about Lancelot and how love seized upon him... But there was one passage that was our ruin. When we read how this tender lover kissed a smile on the adored mouth, he who shall never leave me tremblingly kissed me on the mouth.” The lovers were discovered by Francesca’s husband, who murdered them both. Paolo and Francesca were consigned to the Circle of Carnal Sinners for their adultery. The pathos of this story inspired Rodin to incorporate it in the Gates of Hell, and he gave it a prominent position on the lower left door below Ugolino and His Sons. The story of Paolo and Francesca also inspired The Kiss, but Rodin did not include that piece in the Gates. Images of the Gates are on the Sculpture Garden page.


Rodin Mrs. Russell 3208


Rodin Gustave Geffroy 3235

Portrait of Marianna Mattiocco della Torre (Mrs. Russell), Auguste Rodin,
France, bronze, modelled 1887-1889, this cast 1972 (Musée Rodin 5/12)

Mrs. Russell was an model of Italian origin who married the Australian painter John Peter Russell. They were both associated with the Impressionists, and friends of van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Monet, and Geffroy. The Russells met Rodin through their mutual friends Monet and Geffroy, and Rodin was impressed with Marianna Russell’s classic features and had her pose for sculptures of several ancient deities, including Ceres, Minerva with a Helmet, and Pallas with the Parthenon. In her portrait, Rodin modeled the surface with few irregularities, foregoing his characteristic complex surface modeling to capture her beauty, aloofness and quiet thoughtfulness. He emphasized her strong, angular features and penetrated the understated surface to reveal Mrs. Russell’s intelligence and character. Rodin sculpted Mrs. Russell at the height of his power, and while the surface is much simpler than most of his works, he has succeeded in capturing an insight into her personality and character. Rodin made the first version of this portrait in solid wax, and her beauty and the sculpted interpretation pleased him so much that he had the first metal cast made in silver and frequently exhibited it. He submitted the silver cast to the Paris Salon in 1888, but it was rejected by the judges so he showed it in his exhibition with Claude Monet. The following year it was accepted by the Salon.

Portrait of Gustave Geffroy, Auguste Rodin, France, 1905, bronze

Gustave Geffroy was a journalist, novelist and historian, and was one of the period’s outstanding art critics. A staunch defender and friend of Auguste Rodin, and one of the earliest historians of the Impressionist art movement, Geffroy also was good friends with Claude Monet, who introduced him to Paul Cezanne, who painted Geffroy’s portrait in 1895. Gustave Geffroy often visited Rodin's studio, and was well aware of the artist's motivations and his work. He wrote the catalog essay on Rodin for the 1889 Monet-Rodin exhibition, among others, and was Rodin's most brilliant lifetime interpreter. Rodin chose his male subjects for their achievement and character, and preferred to do portraits of his friends and those he admired. He possessed a genius for portraying the psychological dimensions of personality, and was unmatched as a portrait sculptor by his contemporaries.


Rodin Fallen Caryatid with Urn 3206


Rodin Mask of Hanako 3218

Fallen Caryatid with Urn, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze,
modelled 1883, this cast 1967 (Musée Rodin 5/12)

The ancient Greeks considered caryatids to be priestesses (literally, “Maidens of Karyai”, an ancient town of the Peloponnese peninsula with a famous temple to Artemis, who carried baskets of live reeds on their heads during their ecstatic dance to Artemis), and draped versions of caryatids were used as architectural props, supporting columns in the form of upright women. Caryatids were revived in the Renaissance and used in architecture and decorative arts. Unlike these upright caryatids, Rodin’s are compressed figures collapsing under their burdens. Designed for the Gates of Hell (see the Sculpture Garden page), the two caryatids (Fallen Caryatid with Stone and Fallen Caryatid with Urn) are derived from Dante’s description in the Purgatorio of frightened souls trying to expiate their sins by carrying huge burdens on their backs. The Urn is associated with tomb ornamentation and is a symbol of bereavement. Both of Rodin's Fallen Caryatids were considered by Rodin and his friends to be among his very best compositions, and Fallen Caryatid with Stone was the first figure from the Gates of Hell to be reworked in marble and exhibited as a free-standing work of art. There are numerous versions of each, in bronze, marble and limestone.

Monumental Mask of Hanako, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze,
modelled 1907-1908, this cast 1972 (Musée Rodin 2/12)

Hanako was the stage name of the Japanese actress and dancer Ohta Hisa, who was trained as a geisha and joined the American dancer Loïe Fuller as a mime in her company in Paris in 1904. Rodin met Hanako in 1906 and was impressed with her wide range of Kabuki-inspired expressions. She posed for Rodin between 1907 and 1911, and he produced more studies of Hanako than any other model. She could hold difficult poses for very long periods of time. There are 53 busts, heads and masks of Hanako in the Musée Rodin. The Mask of Hanako is a formal but psychologically expressive head which, along with the other heads in the series, was considered unprecedented in either Western or Eastern sculpture as a revelation of the changes in expression which can be enacted on one woman's face. Rodin called this version Mask of the Anguish of Death, and it was a reprise of a death scene Rodin had seen Hanako perform in 1906.


Rodin Fugitive Love 3202

Fugitive Love (Fugit Amor), Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1881-1887, this cast 1969 (Musée Rodin 10/12)

Fugitive Love (Fugit Amor) was created for the Gates of Hell (shown further up on this page), and like several other sculptures which were created for the Gates, it became an independent work of art that is better known than the Gates of Hell. The female below eludes the grasp of the male, whose back moves along the back of her legs as he grasps for his lover, who flies away from him, holding her hands on her head. Rodin used the composition to symbolize man’s psychological inability to comprehend woman, a common theme in 19th c. European art and literature. It appears twice on the Gates, in two different compositions. The male body from Fugitive Love was separated and exhibited as a single work in 1894 called The Prodigal Son, with the figure in an upright position. This sculpture group is one of a number of frustrated lovers depicted on the Gates of Hell.


Rogers Nydia Blind Flower Girl 4542


Rogers Nydia Blind Flower Girl 3076

Nydia, The Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii, Randolph Rogers, United States,
modeled 1855; carved c. 1888, white marble on a dark marble base

Nydia was the most famous of Rogers’s sculptures and the most popular, to judge from the fact that the artist sold at least 52 examples. It is just as remarkable that, having modeled Nydia in 1855-56, Rogers would sell this example as late as 1888. Although it had still been much admired at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, only a work of wide reputation and classic status would have survived the changes of taste and style that swept American sculpture during that interval.

The subject is Nydia, the virtuous, blind flower girl in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii. The sculpture recreates a moment in the story when she became separated from some friends she was attempting to lead to safety on the seashore, since in the general darkness that followed the eruption of Vesuvius her developed sense of hearing was an advantage in trying to escape the doomed city. Those familiar with the novel saw her situation in a broader sense of brave struggle against impossible odds. In the best tradition of neoclassical sculpture Rogers sought inspiration for his subject among ancient marbles. Nydia’s bent and tentative pose may have been based on a Hellenistic copy of the Old Market Woman (example in Vatican Museum) or the group of Niobe and Her Daughters in the Uffizi in Florence. The latter may have been the source of the baroque forms of Nydia’s clinging, yet flying drapery, which, more than the fallen capital at her feet, suggests the danger faced by the helpless, wet, and wind-tossed young woman.


Rogers Nydia Blind Flower Girl 7441

Although Nydia’s regular facial features and the sculpture’s sources in antique art are in the tradition of neoclassical sculpture, its formal extravagance, drama, and excessively sentimental literary source are departures from that tradition that, nevertheless, made it the most popular American neoclassical sculpture ever.


Music Room Mirror 8104 LG
(1334 x 2000, 1054 KB)

Music Room Mirror from the Milton S. Latham Residence, Thurlow Lodge, Menlo Park, California
Herter Brothers, United States, 1872-1873, rosewood, walnut, maple, redwood, exotic woods, glass, gilt, and paint

This towering American Renaissance mirror presided over the music room at Thurlow Lodge, the Menlo Park estate of Milton Slocum Latham, a Congressman and Senator, who was Governor of California for a record five days before he resigned to enter the Senate, replacing David C. Broderick, who had been killed in the last duel to be fought in San Francisco. Completed in 1873, the estate was considered the finest on the San Francisco peninsula. Latham, who after losing his Senate seat headed a bank and financed two Pacific rail lines becoming one of California’s railroad barons, spared no expense for the furnishings which were designed by Herter Brothers, a New York firm associated with some of the grandest houses in the United States.

The rosewood mirror combines classical motifs using a variety of materials and techniques: painting, inlay, marquetry, carving, and gilding. Its size and opulence matched that of the fifty-room mansion, designed in the French Second Empire style, which was developed in France under Napoleon III and is known for its combination of historical motifs and rich ornamentation. Shortly after the house was completed, Latham lost his fortune; he died bankrupt in 1882. The home was demolished in 1942, and from then until it entered LACMA's collection in 1991 the mirror belonged to the property department of the Warner Brothers studio.


Library Armchair with Marquetry 3072

Library Armchair, United States, New York, c. 1875
ebony, inlays, mother-of-pearl, ivory, cottonwood, northern cedar

This Library Armchair is in the Neo-Grec style, with an Empire shape derived from designs by Thomas Hope.

Brought to a high art in Italy and especially France in the late 1600s to early 1800s (for examples: see Getty Decorative Arts), marquetry patterns (esp. Boulle work) were revived in the 1760s in France and elsewhere in  Europe, and in the 19th century there were spasmodic revivals of marquetry in America and France. This 19th c. Neo-Grec Library Armchair has something of the character of a black-figured Greek amphora, with a mythologically-inspired figure about to throw a spear at a lion, a lion's head in the center of the volute, palmettes and floral designs on the legs and rails, and geometric designs on the seat perimeter.


Parlor Cabinet 3070

Parlor Cabinet, Herter Brothers, United States, c. 1875
rosewood, maple, other exotic woods, pietre duré, marble, brass inlay, oil painted panels, velvet

This American Renaissance parcel-gilt, carved and inlaid rosewood and maple music cabinet was commissioned for the first floor Parlor of the Milton S. Latham residence, Thurlow Lodge, Menlo Park, California executed by Herter Brothers, New York. Decorated with masks of a goddess and mythical beasts, this was also in the property department of Warner Brothers studio after the demolition of Thurlow Lodge in 1942. The Music Room Mirror and this Parlor Cabinet were a part of one of the most notable and extensive commissions of Herter Brothers on the West Coast.

Gustave and Christian Herter became one of the first firms of furniture makers and interior decorators in the United States after the Civil War. The firm was at the forefront of the wide range of Revival furniture styles during the Gilded Age, including the Renaissance Revival, the Aesthetic Movement, and the related Anglo-Japanese style (both of which featured ebonized wood and an Asian influence). The Red Room of the White House was furnished with Herter Bros. furniture during Ulysses S. Grant’s administration and several pieces still remain. They also created the ceiling and carved oak paneling for the State Dining Room during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt, and the carved paneling for the renovated East Room. Herter Brothers most prominent clients were the Vanderbilts, for whom they created millions of dollars worth of furniture in the late 1800s.


Parlor Cabinet Gaudens Florence Gibbs 3073

Parlor Cabinet, United States, New York, 1865-1880, rosewood, ebonized hardwood,
maple, tulip poplar, various inlays, incised gilding, bronze, porcelain, faux lapis-lazuli, gilt, brass

A compendium of Neo-Grec ornamentation, this parlor cabinet expresses the heavy architectural emphasis of the style.
The top was intended to support a sculpture or vase, and in this case displays a Saint-Gaudens portrait of Florence Gibbs.

Florence Gibbs, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, United States, 1872, marble

Although Saint-Gaudens is known for his bronze sculptures, virtually all his work before 1877 that was not in cameos was carved in marble. His heads of two sisters, Florence Gibbs and Belle Gibbs of 1872 were significant early efforts at portraiture, which was to remain an important part of the sculptor’s work throughout his career. As a young sculptor working in Rome in the early 1870s Saint-Gaudens depended on the patronage of Americans visiting the city. Montgomery Gibbs, father of Belle and Florence, a successful New York lawyer and writer, visited Saint-Gaudens’s studio in January 1872 to order a cameo for his wife. He was so impressed by Saint-Gaudens’s work that on a second visit to the studio, when he met the ailing sculptor, he offered him several commissions. Gibbs was Saint-Gaudens’s first major patron and extended the struggling young artist financial support at a critical time in his career.

The bust came to the museum identified as Belle Gibbs, but a letter to Saint-Gaudens from Florence Gibbs in April 1872 refers to the locket: "I forgot to give you the heart locket to copy, but perhaps you remember it," indicating that Florence is the subject of the museum’s bust. Florence turns slightly to the right and looks to the right and has a quiet, thoughtful expression. Although executed in white marble, they are not neoclassical in feeling. Their naturalism and strong sense of personality recall the French portrait sculpture of the late eighteenth century, especially that of Jean-Antoine Houdon, as well as the work of contemporary French sculptors working in a rococo style. Specific stylistic features of Florence Gibbs may have been derived from the work of Houdon, particularly the hollow carving of the pupils, the line of lace edging that vaguely resembles the loose drapery of Houdon, and especially the turning of the head and the glance away that in the work of Houdon suggest an animated but elusive personality glimpsed in an unguarded moment.


Olbrich Armchair and Cabinet 3149


Rohlfs Desk 4545

Armchair, 1899, oak; Cabinet, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Germany, 1899-1900, walnut, mother-of-pearl

Desk, Charles Rohlfs Workshop, Charles Rohlfs, United States, c. 1900, oak, iron

At the end of the nineteenth century, many people felt that the world was changing at a tremendous, machine-powered pace, making it an artificial and anonymous place. The Arts and Crafts movement was a response to this industrialization; its proponents believing that well-designed, everyday objects had the power to help society symbolically and psychologically assimilate what might otherwise be overpowering mechanization, reinforce national traditions, and fulfill the human spirit.

The movement owed much to the convictions of English art critic John Ruskin and designer William Morris, who, in the 1850s and 1860s, sought to elevate the decorative arts to the level of fine craftsmanship and encourage the restoration of “joy in labor” through handwork. These philosophical roots were firmly planted in Britain by the late 1800s with the next generation of designers and artist coalitions who adopted and furthered their ideas. One of these groups was the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which was established in London in 1887, and whose name came to be associated with the entire movement. Soon thereafter the movement branched into other parts of Europe and the United States.


Stickley Side Chair Palmer Table Lamp 3146

Side Chair, Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Workshop, New York, 1903
Design attributed to Harvey Ellis, oak, mahogany, copper, pewter, and rush

Library Table, Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Workshop, Harvey Ellis, New York, 1903-1904
oak, lemon wood, sycamore, exotic woods, copper, pewter, brass

Table Lamp, Palmer Copper Shop, San Francisco, CA, c. 1913, copper and wire mesh

Gustav Stickley was a furniture manufacturer, design leader, publisher and the chief proselytizer for the American Craftsman style, an extension of the British Arts and Crafts movement (as well as a radical who published articles by anarchists). In October 1901, Stickley published the first issue of The Craftsman magazine, an important vehicle for promoting Arts and Crafts philosophy as well as the products of his factory within the context of articles, reviews, and advertisements for a range of products of interest to the homemaker, and marketed his works as Craftsman products. In May 1903 Stickley hired Rochester architect Harvey Ellis. Although Ellis died only a few months later, in January 1904, he had an immediate and profound effect upon design of The Craftsman magazine, its architectural offerings, and the furnishings Stickley was producing. In late 1903 he began providing architectural plans for the Craftsman Home, beginning with his own home, the first Craftsman in Syracuse, NY. His 1903 renovations to the interior after a fire were detailed in the magazine and defined the American Craftsman movement.


Tiffany Pond Lily Lamp 4541


Cup Silver-gilt and Agate 8093

Pond Lily Table Lamp, Model No. 344, Tiffany Studios,
Louis Comfort Tiffany, United States, 1900-1910, leaded glass, bronze

This Pond Lily table lamp is one of Tiffany's most successfully executed designs for his firm's well-known leaded-glass products. The bronze support replicates broad, flat lily pads clustered around a base, out of which rise attenuated climbing stems that disappear into the shade and reemerge in glass at the crown, drawing the eye to the cascading blossoms of the irregular border. A variety of glass was used to great advantage, as seen in the alternation of the pink opalescent stems with those of translucent rippled blue, giving the appearance of a bog where water lilies might be found.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company. He was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements, and was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels and metalwork. He used opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. He developed the "copper foil" technique, which, by edging each piece of cut glass in copper foil and soldering the whole together to create his windows and lamps, made possible a level of detail previously unknown. This can be contrasted with the method of painting in enamels or glass paint on colorless glass, and then setting the glass pieces in lead channels, that had been the dominant method of creating stained glass for hundreds of years in Europe.

In 1881 Tiffany did the interior design of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, which still remains, but the new firm's most notable work came in 1882 when President Chester Alan Arthur refused to move into the White House until it had been redecorated. He commissioned Tiffany, who had begun to make a name for himself in New York society for the firm's interior design work, to redo the state rooms, which Arthur found charmless. Tiffany worked on the East Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room and the Entrance Hall, refurnishing, repainting in decorative patterns, installing newly designed mantelpieces, changing to wallpaper with dense patterns and, of course, adding Tiffany glass to gaslight fixtures, windows and adding an opalescent floor-to-ceiling glass screen in the Entrance Hall.

Cup, England, London, c. 1820, silver-gilt and agate

This cup was made in the style of the superbly crafted treasury items (Schatzkammers) of 16th-17th century German noblemen.


Dragon Vases 4547

Doulton & Co. and Royal Doulton Art Vases

Vase with Rabbit; Monumental Vase with Dragon; Vase with Green Lizard; Dragon Vase;
Vase with Blue Glaze and Pink Leaves; Jug with Scrolls; Vase with Lizard on Rim
late 19th and early 20th century, Royal Doulton, Doulton & Co., England

Doulton produced art pottery, tableware and collectibles in Lambeth, London beginning in 1815, when Doulton & Watts began making stoneware which included articles such as decorative bottles and salt-glased sewer pipes. The company name became Doulton & Co. in 1854, after one of the founding partners, John Doulton. At this time, the company was producing primarily industrial ceramics such as drainage pipes and sanitary fittings (Johns, named after John Harington who in 1596 devised Britain’s first flushing toilet). In 1871, Henry Doulton (John’s son) created a studio at the Lambeth pottery and offered work to artists from the nearby Lambeth School of Art (including George Tinworth and the Barlows) and began producing Art Pottery, such as figurines, art vases, character jugs and decorative pieces, and these came to the attention of the Royal Family.

The decorative stoneware produced in association with the School of Art received great acclaim at International Exhibitions in the 1860s and 1870s, and at the Philadelphia and Chicago Exhibitions of 1886 and 1893. Henry Doulton was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1887 for his contributions to the ceramics industry. Public interest and production of the intricately ornamented salt-glazed stoneware peaked in the late 1890s when about 370 artists were employed. After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, social tastes changed and the demand for ornamented stoneware gradually declined. In 1901 King Edward VII sold the factory a Royal Warrant, allowing the business to adopt new markings and a new name, Royal Doulton.


Dragon Vase 4574


Vase with Blue Glaze Pink Leaves 4553

A Royal Doulton Dragon Vase (1904) and Vase with Blue Glaze and Pink Leaves with a figure hidden under a leaf.


Comical Ceramics 4575


Comical Ceramics 4549

Whimsical character jugs.

Doulton made Toby Jugs (jugs in the form of a seated person or the head of a recognizable person), character jugs, face jugs, and whimsical pottery as well as art pottery. Grotesque and whimsical jugs similar to these were also made in the late 1800s by the Martin Brothers in England.

Since ancient times, potters have made rounded jugs in the shape of the human head. There are early examples from Athens, jugs with humorous expressions were made by English potteries, and even Pablo Picasso applied his unique style to head-form vases. Face jugs from the American South belong to a separate tradition that continues to the present day. These vessels have roots in African-American cultural heritage but later became a bestselling product for regional potteries in the 20th century. Historians originally believed that the face jug was utilitarian and used to store water. Multiple theories later surfaced involving its function as a container of magical materials and its ritualistic use.

In the 1800's, many people were becoming ill and dying from the lead glazes used to seal the low-fire pottery that was being used by the settlers of the southern USA. In response, Dr. Abner Landrum founded Pottersville, a group of about 16-17 houses with families in the area within 1.5 miles from the Edgefield court house in South Carolina. It grew into a village of about 150 people, mostly slaves. They produced lead-free pottery and face jugs until the beginning of the Civil War, now known as Edgefield Pottery. The form was appropriated by white potters in the 1880s.


Menagerie Clock 4551

I cannot find any information on this exceptionally cute ceramic clock “The Menagerie”.
The mice seem to be part of a 19th or early 20th century carnival. Featured performers
are The Wild Beast Show, The Three Card Trick, and The Wheel of Fortune, the others
are musicians drawing viewers. Note the Parrot and Monkey observing the festivities.


Vestal Oil Lamp Wedgwood 3108

Vestal Oil Lamp, Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, Ltd., England, c. 1800-1820
stoneware, solid lilac jasper, white ornament

This Wedgwood piece depicts a seated female figure pouring oil from a pitcher into a covered “Aladdin-style” oil lamp with a flared stem on a square base with cut corners. This style was quite popular throughout the 19th century, and is more commonly seen in black basalt. Later in the mid-1800s this style was made in Majolica (a brilliantly colored tin-glazed pottery which was originally from Majorca). Wedgewood Lilac Jasperware was made in two periods: from 1777-1820 and from 1860-1920.

Josiah Wedgwood first created a highly-refined variety of Creamware ceramic with a brilliant glaze which could withstand heat and cold and which provided a perfect background for enamellers. He created a new earthenware form based on Creamware in 1765 which impressed Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who gave him permission to call it Queensware, which sold extremely well across Europe. Wedgwood developed a way of measuring kiln temperatures accurately and new types Black Basalt and Jasper Ware. Wedgwood's most famous ware is jasperware, which was created to look like ancient Roman cameo glass. It was inspired by the Portland Vase, a Roman vessel which is now in the British Museum. The main Wedgwood motifs in jasperware were decorative designs which were influenced by ancient cultures being studied and rediscovered at that time, especially as Britain was expanding her Empire. Many motifs were taken from ancient Roman, Greek or Egyptian mythology.


Lawrence Arthur Atherley as an Etonian 3103

Portrait of Arthur Atherley as an Etonian, Thomas Lawrence, England, c. 1791, oil on canvas

One of the pictures that launched the 22-year-old Thomas Lawrence’s career was his three-quarter length 1792 portrait of Arthur Atherley, a banker’s son just down from Eton, who was only two years younger than the painter. A decade before Byron’s debut, Lawrence transforms this ordinary young man into a Regency buck by showing him standing against black storm clouds with Eton College in the far distance. Looking straight at the viewer, Arthur politely doffs his top hat with one hand, as though meeting us for the first time. Then, casually flipping back his scarlet coat to show off a slim waist, he rests one gloved hand on his hip, lowers his head slightly to allow his long hair to tumble down over his shoulders, and with the hint of a smile passing over lips, locks his eyes with ours.

Lawrence had an ability to let his viewers in on the joke, to turn them into his accomplices. In his lifetime, a contemporary accused him of being a “male coquet”. Imagine how thrilled he must have been when King George IV commissioned him to paint Pope Pius VII, the finest of the 24 portraits that now hang in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. The pope sits enthroned in the new Vatican galleries with the antique statue of the Laocoon behind him, simply dressed in a white silk cassock and red velvet jacket trimmed with ermine. Even here, Lawrence’s wit is irrepressible.

No British monarch had commissioned a portrait of the pope, and certainly not one intended to hang in a royal residence. For this reason, no overt symbols of papal supremacy such as the triple tiara are visible. But Lawrence shows the pope resting one embroidered slipper on a plump velvet cushion jutting out over the step to the dais into the viewer’s space. Right up until the 20th century, etiquette during a private audience at the Vatican required the visitor to kiss the pope’s foot. Since the portrait would hang just above eye level, that red velvet slipper becomes its dramatic focus, a (possibly facetious) invitation to the British monarch to submit to the Roman obedience. Only George IV would have let Lawrence get away with it.


Cezanne Boy with a Straw Hat 3226

Boy With a Straw Hat (L'Enfant au Chapeau de Paille), Paul Cézanne, France, 1896, oil on canvas

Paul Cézanne used the son of Monsieur Vallet, the gardener at his hotel, as a model for this portrait
of a boy in a straw hat. Cézanne always made his models sit absolutely still for long periods of time,
and was a deliberate painter, which is probably why his subjects seem to look tired and depressed.

Although he participated in the first and third Impressionist exhibitions, Paul Cézanne felt that he “wanted to make of Impressionism something solid and enduring, like the art in museums.” His early interests were far from the light effects studied by the group and instead were directed toward capturing structure and solidity. This focus made the resolutely non-Parisian artist from Aix-en-Provence a natural model for Picasso and the cubists, and he is widely considered a father of 20th-century art.

The art Cézanne made in Provence destabilized centuries of representation and created a sort of 19th century surrealism. In the early 1900's, when Cézanne's paintings began to be known to younger artists, his works provided the foundations for Cubism and the multiple strands of early Modernism. Cézanne's works were rejected many times by the Paris Salon and ridiculed by art critics when exhibited with the Impressionists, but during his lifetime Cézanne was considered a master by the younger artists who visited his studio in Aix. His explorations of geometric simplification and optical phenomena inspired Picasso, Braque, Metzinger, Gleizes, Gris and others to experiment with ever more complex multiple views of the same subject and eventually to the fracturing of form.


Gauguin Field of Derout-Lollichon 3240

The Field of Derout-Lollichon, Paul Gauguin, France, 1886, oil on canvas

A bequest from film producer Hal Wallis, this was painted in Pont-Aven when Gauguin was still under the influence of Cézanne and Pisarro. The quiet landscape reveals a harmony of vivid pastels anticipating the later South Seas paintings for which Gauguin is best known. Paul Gauguin was a French Post-Impressionist artist who was not appreciated until after his death. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement whose bold experimentation with color led directly to the Synthesist style. He was the first artist to systematically use the effects of the style which would become Primitivism, and his bold, colorful and design-oriented paintings significantly influenced Modern Art, inspiring his friend van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and others.


Renoir Two Girls Reading 3245

Two Girls Reading, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, France, c. 1890-1891, oil on canvas

Renoir’s painting Two Girls Reading illustrates qualities of both his Impressionist style and his later period. He often portrayed women and children engaged in domestic and leisure activities. Renoir is most recognized for his early work with the group of artists known as the Impressionists. Impressionism departed from the past artistic traditions and aimed to depict fleeting observations of color and light along with scenes from modern life. Many of his best-known works were painted en plein air (outdoors), where along with Claude Monet, he discovered that shadows were not brown or black, but the reflected colors of their surroundings. He used this principle throughout his career. Renoir's paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. He placed the two girls in close proximity, and emphasized the similarity of their features, their physical intimacy and their intellectual kinship as they share a book.


Renoir Jean as a Huntsman 3230

Jean as a Huntsman, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, France, 1910, oil on canvas

Renoir used his son Jean as a model for a number of portraits. Jean would later become an actor, screenwriter, producer and most famously, a director who created numerous internationally successful films in the 1930s, including La Grande Illusion, the first foreign film to receive an Academy Award nomination. Jean bequeathed this painting to the museum when he died.

This life-size portrayal of Jean as a Huntsman was created when he was 15 years old, and is an example of Renoir’s late work. He had a special reason for painting this particular portrait: he had acquired this 63” x 38” Italian frame from the 17th century in an antique store in Nice and he wanted to fill it. Jean was not actually a hunter, but he had a jacket that made him look like one, so they borrowed a gun from a farmer on their land and used their puppy Bob as a “hunting hound” to create this image of the least intimidating hunter imaginable. Renoir’s close friend, the Post-Impressionist artist Albert Andre who painted portraits of Renoir and Claude Monet, said that Renoir had created this large vertical composition of Jean (who hated hunting) as a disguised response to critics who said that h disabling rheumatoid arthritis limited him only to small or horizontal paintings.

Many critics and curators in the art world consider Renoir’s late work to be inferior to his work created during the period he was working in the Impressionist style and in the decade immediately afterwards when he was at the height of his creativity, for example the innovative and exquisitely executed La Promenade from 1870 (from the Getty Museum Paintings section). His desire to compete with earlier masters led him to repudiate the Impressionist movement’s hallmarks and paint in a studio rather than en plein air (outdoors), directly observing nature. When his 1919 painting The Great Bathers (The Nymphs), made just before his death, was stolen from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, a curator said: “... it was garbage and I’m glad it’s gone”, and added that he wanted the thieves to know that Jean as a Huntsman was in the museum’s front lobby near the exit.


Cadmus Coney Island 4554

Coney Island, Paul Cadmus, United States, 1934, oil on canvas

Coney Island was the first painting Cadmus made after he ceased working for the federally sponsored Public Works of Art Project. It is typical of his paintings of the period in both theme and form. Cadmus viewed the prosaic activity of bathing on a beach in devastatingly satirical terms. Poking fun at the bathers’ carefree pleasures, Cadmus accumulated an odd assortment of bulging, burnt bodies. The bathers are oblivious to their ridiculous appearance and uncouth behavior. Swarming the beach, their bodies are strangely intertwined, their faces smiling inanely. Everything is exaggerated, the color verging on the garish to intensify their grossness.

In the 1930s Cadmus used oil paint almost as if it were a graphic medium, consequently Coney Island looks more like a tinted drawing than a painting. His small, exacting brushstrokes impart a flickering quality to the surface, which intensifies the impression that the figures are in constant motion. Cadmus actually began to sketch the scene on Martha’s Vineyard, before he visited Coney Island. He was attracted to the Brooklyn beach because it offered him the opportunity to delineate the human figure with as little clothing as possible. He considered the beach scene to be a classical subject, but his treatment of the scene is rather baroque. Cadmus was attracted to the elaborate compositions of old master paintings. Coney Island, with its seminude figures arranged in complex groupings, their bodies twisted and in constant motion, was for Cadmus the 20th century version of a baroque allegorical composition.

Cadmus claimed that his intent was not to be sensational, but when the painting was exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s second biennial, it suffered the same hostile reception as did his painting The Fleet’s In! from earlier in 1934, which caused a controversy over the risqué depiction of carousing sailors, fast women, and an unambiguous image of a sailor accepting a cigarette from a gentleman of indeterminate sexuality wearing a red tie (one of the ‘secret’ dress code signals for gays of the period). This controversy helped launch his career. The painting aroused the most anger amongst top Navy brass, and The Fleet’s In! was confiscated and found its way to assistant Secretary of the Navy H.R. Roosevelt, the President’s cousin, who made sure that it disappeared from public view for decades. Much later, it turned up in the effects of a deceased admiral.

The Coney Island Showmen’s League, a local trade group, denounced Coney Island as offensive and inaccurate and threatened a libel suit if the painting was not removed from the exhibition. According to the artist’s incomplete records, it seems that the painting was rejected from several annual exhibitions to which it was submitted soon after it was shown at the Whitney biennial, probably because of the controversy it stirred. In 1935 Cadmus produced an etching from a photograph of the painting in the hope that it would reach a larger public. In the etching the image is reversed but otherwise differs only in a few details.


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