Anna Hyatt Huntington: The Most Famous New York Sculptor You’ve Never Heard Of

by articulatenyc

Flanking the Fordham Road entrance to New York’s Bronx Zoo are two sculptures of crouching jaguars. The beloved limestone creatures, which arrived at the zoo in 1937, are seen by countless visitors each day. Yet, the legacy of their prolific creator, Anna Hyatt Huntington, is unknown to many.

An exhibition opening tomorrow at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery aims to change this. Titled “Goddess, Heroine, Beast: Anna Hyatt Huntington’s New York Sculpture, 1902–1936,” the show will reintroduce audiences to the artist’s work, which can be found in numerous museums, parks, and institutions throughout the city. In addition to the Bronx Zoo, these locations include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New-York Historical Society, the Hispanic Society of America, and the National Academy Museum. The show will feature a selection of small bronzes from these venues as well as images of Huntington’s larger public projects, and videos of the artist at work. Curated by Barnard professor Anne Higonnet, “Goddess, Heroine, Beast” is the first exhibition to showcase Huntington’s early New York works.

The daughter of a Harvard zoology and paleontology professor, Huntington—born Anna Vaughn Hyatt in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1876—had a keen interest in animals and anatomy. She took private art lessons and learned to make small animal sculptures, before moving to New York City in 1902. There, she enrolled in the Art Students League. The artist quickly found a market for her statuettes in the city and worked with local foundries such as Gorham & Company to cast, stock, and promote bronze editions of her work. Her small sculptures sold from between $25 to $335 and larger works were priced at $1,500, allowing Huntington to make a comfortable living for herself . . .

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