Paul Manship (American, 1885-1966) and Gaston Lachaise (American, 1882-1935)
Plaster Sketch-model for a Pediment, c. 1916
Plaster with patina, 15 3/16 x 3 1/2 (at its apex) x 1 5/8 in. (38.6 x 8.9 x 4.2 cm).
Provenance: Paul Manship to Herbert Lewis Kammerer, then by descent to the present owner.
N.B. The present model represents a proposal for the crowning element of the John Pierpont Morgan Memorial, a commission awarded to Paul Manship in 1914 and partly designed and executed by Gaston Lachaise (Manship's studio assistant by 1914 until 1921). The model was made by casting a hollow-backed triangular shape in plaster, then carving on the face, in low relief, a border featuring an anthemion with acanthus-scroll ornament and graceful, buoyant figures, and within, a sleeping lion about to awaken to a new dawn--suggesting perpetual renewal.
One of many plaster studies for the project, it is the only known example now extant, and it documents the artistic interaction between these sculptors in about 1916, when the memorial's uppermost component was envisaged as a low-pitched gable. Several of its features--such as the foliate decoration and the levitating figures rendered in Lachaise's personal style--reappear in the full-scale plaster model, carried out with Lachaise's significant participation from February 1917 to September 1918 (cover illustration, V. Budny, New York's Left Bank: Art and Artists off Washington Square North, 1900-1950, New York, 2006), and in turn in the limestone memorial, carved entirely by him during the next two years. Installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1920, the work commemorates John Pierpont Morgan (1827-1913), a titan of finance and the museum's former trustee, benefactor, and president.
We are grateful to Virginia Budny for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entry for this work.