Lot 41
  • 41

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth 1880-1980

400,000 - 600,000 USD
725,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
  • Crest of the Wave (Hogan Statue)
  • signed © HARRIET W. FRISHMUTH and inscribed THE GORHAM CO FOUNDERS OMFP on the edge of the base
  • bronze


Grand Central Art Galleries, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1944


Charles N. Aronson, Sculptured Hyacinths, New York, 1973, pp. 158-161, 212, illustration of another example
Janis Conner and Joel Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893-1939, Austin, Texas, 1989, p. 39-40
Janis Conner, Frank Hohmann, Leah Rosenblatt Lehmbeck, Thayer Tolles, et al., Captured Motion: The Sculpture of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, A Catalogue of Works, New York, 2006, no. 1926:1, pp. 37, 48, 86, 105, 251, 277, illustrations of other examples pp. 87, 250

Catalogue Note

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, best known for her captivating bronzes of female nudes, was one of the most successful American sculptors of the early twentieth century. Frishmuth maintained a studio in the charming mews known as Sniffen Court in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City where her fellow sculptor Malvina Hoffman also worked. Both women preferred professional dancers as models and their grace and athleticism translated fittingly into Frishmuth’s active and expressive sculptures. She felt that, “the unrestrained freedom of a figure’s pose was an expression of life within” (Janis Connor, et. al., Captured Motion: The Sculpture of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, New York, 2006, p. 28). Working during a period that witnessed a renewed interest in bronze collecting, Frishmuth created dynamic sculptures in both large and small formats that quickly found homes in private collections, museums, and garden settings.

Conceived in 1917, Joy of the Waters (lot 41) arose from Frishmuth’s request for her favored model Desha Delteil to imagine how she would react if a cold ripple of water touched her foot while standing barefoot on a rock. Janette Ransome actually posed for the resulting sculpture, in which Frishmuth captured the figure’s seemingly levitating pose with arms thrown upward, knee raised, and face animated as she balances upon a rock surrounded by water. The sculpture was modeled in 1917, but casting did not begin until 1920 due to the Gorham Co. foundry’s commitment to produce munitions during World War I. The foundry eventually made 44 casts.

Enamored with the energetic spirit of Joy of the Waters, which he first saw in his neighbor’s garden in Washington, D.C., Frank J. Hogan sought to purchase a cast of the sculpture for his own property. Not wanting to offend her earlier client with placement of the same work right next door, Frishmuth suggested she create another sculpture, resulting in Crest of the Wave (lot 40). Hogan requested the new model “exude a similar energetic spirit and that it be piped so as ‘to have the body played upon by water at all times when the fountain is in use’” (Connor, p. 37). The large version of Crest of the Wave thus emerged in 1926, and the figure’s windswept hair, uplifted arms, lively face, and exquisite balance proved popular among collectors. 22 casts of the work were produced by the Gorham Foundry. With their characteristic charm and lyrical liveliness, Crest of the Wave and its inspiration Joy of the Waters were enthusiastically received and remain today two of Frishmuth’s most celebrated sculptures.