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Details & Cataloguing

The Collection of A. Alfred Taubman: American Art

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New York

Paul Manship 1885 - 1966
DUCK GIRL
Inscribed Paul H. Manship and dated Roma 1911
Copper-based alloy over a metal core
Height: 62 inches
(157.5 cm)
Cast circa 1914-15.
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Provenance

Herbert L. Pratt, Glen Cove, New York (commissioned from the artist)
Private Collection (by descent and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 25, 1988, lot 232A, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman

Literature

Paul Vitry, Paul Manship: Sculpteur américain, Paris, 1927, pp. 22, 35,  illustrated pl. 2 (as La Jeune Fille au canard)
Edwin Murtha, Paul Manship, New York, 1957, no. 16, p. 149, illustrated pl. 16
Patricia Heikenen, ed., Paul Howard Manship: An Intimate View, Sculpture and Drawings from the Permanent Collection of the Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1972, p. 35 
Gloria Kittleson, et al., Paul Manship: Changing Taste in America, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1985, pp. 65-66, 96, illustrated fig. 6, p. 64
John Manship, Paul Manship, New York, 1989, pp. 32, 37, 45, 48, 49, 55

Catalogue Note

Duck Girl was executed in 1911 during Paul Manship’s sojourn as a fellow at the American Academy in Rome (1909-12) and exemplifies the style that set the stage for his successful career. According to Edwin Murtha, “It was the first, and one of the most successful, of the bronzes he achieved in the period immediately following his study of Pompeiian sculpture” (Paul Manship, New York, 1957, p. 149).

In February 1913, after his return from Rome, Manship participated in an exhibition at the Architectural League in New York, drawing accolades from many critics who greatly admired his work. The essayist Kenyon Cox wrote in The Nation: “There is no rarer or more delightful sensation than the recognition of a new and genuine talent. This sensation I have experienced at the present exhibition of the Architectural League. What is known as the Academy’s Room at the galleries of the American Fine Arts Society is, for this exhibition, given over to work from the American Academy in Rome, and among the things there exhibited is a group of some ten pieces of sculpture by Paul Manship…

“It is in his fountain figure, The Duck Girl, that he shows what he can really do. If this be not the latest of his works, it is certainly the best, the most thoroughly considered and completed; and the fact that he has put it into bronze would lead one to think that he so regards it. Here there is very little archaism, only that degree of restraint which marks the best sculptural tradition…

“Will this new sculptor fulfill his promise? Can he go on, clarifying and defining his style, his talent becoming stronger and more supple, until he stands forth indubitably a master? It is dangerous to prophesy, and we have all been often disappointed. The ugly duckling who develops into a swan is less common than the cygnet who turns out, after all, to be a goose. But, to me at least, Mr. Manship presents so swanlike an aspect that I shall watch his future with the deepest interest, and shall hope that he will prove to have the enduring patience, the indefatigable industry, the high seriousness of purpose, which are, no less than the talent which he assuredly possesses, so necessary to the making of a great artist” (as cited in Paul Howard Manship: An Intimate View, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1972, p. 35).

In late 1913, Herbert L. Pratt commissioned Manship to produce casts of Duck Girl and a life-size male figure for niches in the wall of his elaborately terraced and landscaped gardens in Glen Cove, New York. As an avid early collector and patron of American art, Pratt, the president of the Standard Oil Company of New York and a trustee of both the Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery of Art, was a rarity amongst his peers. It was in the early years of Manship's career that well-known patrons such as Mr. Pratt, John D. Rockefeller, and Samuel Untermeyer, provided the artist with a great number of the commissions that helped establish his reputation.

In 1914, Duck Girl was awarded the George D. Widener Memorial Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Only two examples exist; the other stands in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

The Collection of A. Alfred Taubman: American Art

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New York