08 February, 2013

The Shell Girl

Once in while when time permits I like to do a little sleuthing and see what objects that were once a part of Villa Turicum still exist. Often my quest is futile, (mind you, I don't give up easily) but every so often I can locate a fragment. I was pleased to have that be the case earlier this week when it came to a piece created by Janet Scudder.


Janet Scudder, c. 1920


An American sculptress (1869-1940) who primarily lived in France, Janet Scudder's most recognized bronze is perhaps "Frog Fountain," which puposely brought her back to New York in the early 1900's to attract the commisions of wealthy Americans who were constructing large estates.

Of course one of these Americans was John D. Rockefeller, who commisioned work for his Pocantico Hills estate. Knowing this, and being somewhat familiar with Scudder's background (she was from Indiana and had worked in Chicago as a woodcarver before joining Lorado Taft's White Rabbits) I was sure that Edith must have been acquainted with Janet's work.


Shell Girl [sculpture] Shell fountain; Lake Forest, Ill., Estate of Mrs. Harold McCormick. (photographed by De Witt Ward) American Sculpture Photograph Study Collection, Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum


She was, and in 1910 "Shell Girl" was created and installed at Villa Turicum. Janet Scudder would leave the United States in 1913 to purchase a house outside of Paris where she would spend the rest of her life. It would be interesting to know if Edith or she had any contact, as Edith would be living in Europe (Zurich) herself until 1921 - and both remained expatriates during the First World War. One can only wonder, as these were two extremely individualistic and forthright women. Now that I think about it, perhaps for that very reason it was never the case.

(To find Shell Girl on the Villa Turicum grounds, CLICK HERE)

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