Yankee Stonecutters: The First American School of Sculpture, 1800-1850

Yankee Stonecutters: The First American School of Sculpture, 1800-1850

Yankee Stonecutters: The First American School of Sculpture, 1800-1850

Yankee Stonecutters: The First American School of Sculpture, 1800-1850


The original purpose of this book was to provide a catalogue of the collection of early-nineteenth-century American sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As the compilation of material for the catalogue went forward, so many interesting facts came to light which explained the curiosities of the rise of the First American School of Sculpture that it was decided to embody them in a series of informal essays. These attempt to place the sculptors and their works in relation to the life of the time. It has been the aim throughout this book to treat the subject as a part of the larger pattern of American life rather than to isolate it in a separate history of sculpture -- an art too often considered as something quite divorced from life in general.

Judged solely as works of art, the productions of the entire school have perhaps only a moderate significance. The principal importance of these sculptors' lives and works to us today would seem to be their great value as social, cultural, and historical documents. It is not the purpose of this book to endeavor to renew the dessicated crowns of laurel so relentlessly pressed upon the sculptors' untroubled brows by their impetuous and well- meaning contemporaries.

In consideration of this point of view, the main body of the text has been arranged upon the following pattern: first, two chapters on certain phases of the patronage of sculptors; second, two chapters on the artists themselves, as a group and as individuals; finally, an examination of the two dominant influences of the time --romance and machines--as they affected the lives and works of the sculptors. The catalogue of the sculpture in the Museum, reduced to a list, will be found in the Appendix. Following the text is a biographical dictionary of more than a hundred American sculptors both native and immigrant, born between 1800 and 1830, who grew to maturity before the Civil War and constitute the First American School of Sculpture.

The author wishes especially to express his indebtedness to Horace H. F. Jayne, Vice Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for his continued interest and encouragement as well as for many valued suggestions which have been incorporated in this book.

The author makes grateful acknowledgement to the following publishers for permission to quote from the works cited: to E. P. Dutton, Van Wyck Brooks' The Flowering of New England; to Harper and Brothers, Mark Twain Innocents Abroad; to Houghton Mifflin Company,Emerson Journals and Henry James' William Wetmore Story and His Friends; to Little, Brown and Company, The Letters of Mrs. Henry Adams, edited byWard Thoron; to Random House,Emerson Complete Essays, edited byBrooks Atkinson (Modern Library Edition); to Charles Scribners Sons,Maitland Armstrong's Day Before Yesterday; to Yale University Press, The Correspondence of James Fenimore Cooper. Thanks are also due the North Carolina Historical Commission for permission to quote R. D. W. Conner Canova's Statue of Washington.

A. T. G.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York December, 1944 . . .

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