Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: 'Puck', Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1856)

Harriet Hosmer, 1855
The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

The mischievous sprite of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puck, has inspired many an artist for centuries. This sculpture of “Puck” was sculptor Harriet Hosmer's most popular work. She created the first version of the subject between 1855 and 1856. This version was followed by about thirty marble replicas that were said to have brought the sculptor a profit of over 30,000 dollars.

One of these Pucks was purchased in 1859 by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). Here, we see that version. It was purchased from the family to whom King Edward VII had gifted the piece by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 1976.

Hosmer was the pupil of John Gibson is remembered as the leading figure among an important group of American women sculptors working in Rome in the second half of the 19th century. The figure of Puck is an excellent example of the two facets of her talent—the playful and the classical.

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