Lot Content

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Frederick William MacMonnies first began to work in Augustus Saint-Gaudens' studio in 1880 as an errand boy. During the day he was a menial laborer in the workshop and in the evenings he studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Student's League. Eventually he became a well respected apprentice and Saint-Gaudens encouraged the young sculptor, advising him to go to Paris to refine his talent. In Paris, MacMonnies studied under the great academicians, Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguière and Marius Jean Antonin Mercié. MacMonnies combined the best of the French and the American worlds in his sculpture. In 1889, he had his first success at the Paris Salon with the Diana, a bronze very akin to his French master's, Falguière's, work. His affinity with Saint-Gaudens' love of the Italian Renaissance is depicted with the Boy and Duck fountain. The beautifully cast Venus and Adonis combines the mastery of French craftsmanship (it is a Gruet cast) with the very American treatment of the nude figures. MacMonnies' importance in both countries was acknowledged by the awards he received--he was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a commander of the Legion of Honor.


'Boy and Duck', A Bronze and Marble Fountain Group

46in. (116.8cm.) high, including marble and bronze base
With Cannell and Chaffin, Inc., Los Angeles, California (sold April 30, 1926)
Private Collection, California
By descent through the family
The City of New York, Catalogue of the Works of Art Belonging to the City of New York, New York, vol II, September 1908-January 1920, pp. 4-5, for another example illustrated in situ
A.T.E. Gardner, American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Greenwich, CT, 1965, p. 84
B.G. Proske, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, reprint 1968, p. 34
L.I. Sharp, New York City Public Sculpture by 19th Century American Artists, New York, 1974, pp. 10-11, illus. for another example
J. Conner and J. Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works 1893-1939, Austin, Texas, 1989, p. 130, footnote 31

Lot Essay

The present example of Boy and Duck is one of only four known examples, all on variant bronze and marble bases. In 1896, MacMonnies gave a cast to New York City which was installed in the Vale of Cashmere, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The central group, which was surrounded by six turtles, was stolen from the park in 1941. The other groups are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a Private Collection, New York (sold in these Rooms, December 2, 1988, lot 291). The present example is being offered with its original bill of sale, dated April 30, 1926, from Cannell and Chaffin, Inc. and a transcript of a letter from the artist dated December 20, 1933 to the gallery which refers to the present bronze. Reductions of the model on bronze bases are also known.

In his review of the National Sculpture Society's exhibition of 1898, Loredo Taft referred to the model as " . . . a tiny gem from MacMonnies' Parisian studio, a regular Verrochio baby holding aloft a struggling duck." (Gardner, p. 84)

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