Born in Salem, Massachusetts, William Wetmore Story was the son of Joseph Story, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He was of a man of immense versatility: as a lawyer, in which he graduated in 1840, as an author of poetry, prose and drama, and as a critic of art in all its forms. His first major commission was for a statue of his father for the cities of Boston and Cambridge, which led him to Europe in search of inspiration, particularly in Rome, where he moved permanently in 1856. Story is known for his idealised, but emotive, Neoclassical representations of illustrious historical or literary figures which are pregnant with internal emotion or tension, and are seemingly on the verge of action. His most significant works are Sappho (1863) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Delilah (1886) and Saul (1881) in the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; Media (1868) and Cleopatra (1888) in the Metropolitan Museum, New York; and Alcestis (1874) in the Wadsworth Atheneum. Ramirez has pointed out that Story ‘preferred to depict personalities whose passions were on the brink of eruption: the notorious, the wronged, and the martyred. He was particularly attracted to melancholy, brooding females as sculptural subjects’.
This beautiful marble Faunesse and Child appears to be the model listed by Mary Phillips in her 1897 Reminiscences of William Wetmore Story under 'Statues Modeled by W.W. Story', recorded as '1867-68 - Fauness and Child - Robert Garrett, Baltimore'. It is possible that the present marble is that which was owned by Robert Garrett, though it is possible that Story could have carved more than one version. The model is also mentioned by Gerdts (op. cit., p. 23), who notes that genre subjects are rare within Story's oeuvre, and groups the present marble, in terms of subject category, with the Infant Bacchus on a Panther in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (inv. no. RES.56.65a). The present group is technically very sophisticated, with its interlinked figures and pan-pipes, and recalls antique sculptural prototypes.
W. H. Gerdts, 'William Wetmore Story', The American Art Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, Nov. 1972, pp. 16-33
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