LAWRENCE STEIGRAD FINE ARTS

Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and British Portraits

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LAURA GARDIN FRASER (Chicago 1889 – Westport, Connecticut 1966)

Snuff

signed and dated Laura Gardin©1915/FEB.1915.FECIT. and numbered 22 on the underside

bronze, reddish-brown patina

height: 8¼ inches         (21 cm.)


PROVENANCE

Private Collection, New York

 

RELATED LITERATURE

Bruce M. Donaldson, “American Sculpture at Buffalo” in The American Magazine of Art, volume VII, no. 10, The American Federation of Arts, New York, August 1916, p. 419

“Laura Gardin Fraser, New York” in Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Works of Art, part 4, Government Printing Press, Washington, 1916, p. 326

Eleanor Jewett, “Art” in The Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 2, 1919, p. 9

“Contemporary American Bronzes” in The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, number 10, Cleveland, Ohio, December 1919, pp. 152-153

“Laura Gardin Fraser” in Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Work of Art, part 4, volume 14, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1919, pp. 258-259

“Laura Gardin Fraser, Snuff” in Catalogue of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, February 8th, 1920 – March 28th, 1920, Philadelphia, p. 70, no. 501

Eugène Castello, “Philadelphia (Review of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Annual Exhibition held in the galleries of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts)” in The International Studio, volume 70, March – June, 1920, John Lane Company, New York, p. 77

“Two Exhibitions” in The New York Times, April 24, 1921

Frances Dean Whittemore, George Washington in Sculpture, volume 2, Marshall Jones Company, Boston, 1933, p. 199

Beatrice Gilman Proske, “Laura Gardin Fraser” in Brookgreen Garden Sculpture, Printed by order of the Trustees, Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, 1969, p. 248

James MacKay, “Laura Gardin Fraser” in The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1977, p. 142

Peter Hastings Falk, ed., “Laura Gardin” in The Annual Exhibition Record of The National Academy of Design 1901-1950, Sound View Press, Madison, CT, 1990, p. 217, exh. 1916, no. 508

Peter Hastings Falk, ed., “Laura Gardin Fraser” in The Annual Exhibition Record of the National Academy of Design 1901-1950, Sound View Press, Madison, CT, 1990, p. 209, exh. Winter Exhibition 1919, no. 80

 

According to tradition, Snuff was Laura Gardin Fraser’s dog. On February 14, 1915, Laura created a unique piece depicting Snuff at the age of one month apparently as a Valentine’s Day gift for her husband and fellow-sculptor James Earle Fraser. This work would prove the inspiration for one of her most beloved pieces, Snuff, sculpted a bit later in the same month, shown somewhat older and slightly differently proportioned.

In 1916 Bruce M. Donaldson for The American Magazine of Art reviewing the American Sculptor Exhibition at the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, wrote after viewing the 800 works included in the show, “Mention must be made of ‘Snuff’ a pup of indeterminate breed who has become most popular with all the visitors to the exhibition. Laura Gardin has scored a distinct triumph in this piece.”[1] In 1919 in a show of Contemporary American Bronzes at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Snuff was categorized as “an irresistible puppy.”[2] Also in 1919 Eleanor Jewett in a review of an exhibition of the seventeen members of the Macdougal Alley Sculptors of New York City (where at this point Fraser maintained a studio) held at the Arts Club declared, “‘Snuff,’ by Laura Gardin Fraser, is an irresistible red brown puppy sitting back on his haunches and letting the world wag past with a spirit that prefers to look on rather than take part in the procession.”[3] When shown at the One Hundred and Fifteenth Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1920, Eugène Castello in The International Studio described it as “a capital bit of animal work in Miss Laura Gardin Fraser’s Snuff.”[4] In 1921 a journalist for The New York Times reviewed a show of her work at the Ferargil Galleries. Quite taken with the bronze but not sure of its name, he remarked, “a baby dog (‘Snuff,’ ‘Buzz’ or ‘Bunny’) is enticing in its infantile innocence, younger and more innocent than a baby human of the same number of weeks possibly could look.” A Snuff was purchased by the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, for its permanent collection. Lovingly cast and in beautiful condition, the puppy’s appeal has not been diminished by time.

Laura Gardin studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1907-1910 with James Earle Fraser, whom she would marry in 1913. Her early works were mainly executed on a small scale and often depicted babies, horses and dogs. Her later works included medals and portraits as well as large scale commissions such as her life-size bronze of Fairplay, the champion racehorse owned by Joseph E. Widener for his estate in Lexington, Kentucky. She was a member of the National Sculpture Society, National Academy of Design, National Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. During her career she received numerous formal tributes including the Saint-Gaudens medal and the Saint-Gaudens figure prize while still studying at the Art Students League. Other honors included the Shaw prize, 1920; J. Sanford Saltus medal, National Academy of Design, 1924 and 1927; J. Sanford Saltus medal for medallic art, American Numismatic Society, 1926; the Agar prize, National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, 1927; and the Walrous medal, National Academy of Design, 1931. Other institutions where her work can be found include Lowe Art Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY; Museum of Hounds & Hunting, Morven Park, Leesburg, VA; United States Military Academy, West Point, NY; and Smith College, Northampton, MA.[5]

 

[1] Bruce M. Donaldson, op. cit., pp. 414-415.

[2] “Contemporary American Bronzes” in The Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art, op. cit., p. 152.

[3] Eleanor Jewett, op. cit., p. 9.

[4] Eugène Castello, op. cit., p. 70.

[5] Biographical information taken from “Laura Gardin Fraser” in Contemporary American Sculptors, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park, San Francisco, April to October, 1929, p. 109; Peter Hastings Falk, ed., “Laura Gardin Fraser” in Who was Who in American Art, Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1985, p. 213; and F. Turner Reuter, Jr., “Laura Gardin Fraser” in Animal & Sporting Artists in America, The National Sporting Library, Middleburg, Virginia, 2008, pp. 255-256.

Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts

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