Harriet Frishmuth 1880-1980
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Harriet Whitney Frishmuth carried the torch of the classical sculptural tradition in sculpture into the twentieth century. Ardently opposed to the stylistic excesses of modernism, Frishmuth made an impressive impact through her lyrically-posed figures in bronze. Born in Philadelphia in 1880, Frishmuth studied briefly under Auguste Rodin before enrolling at the Academie Colarossi in Paris. Her professional career began with a 1903 debut at the annual Paris Salon, followed by more years of study and apprenticeship back in the United States, from 1904 to 1908. The following decade saw her first steps towards professional independence, but her first breakthrough, aesthetically and commercially, would come at the end of the 1910s when her signature vision came to fruition. The twenties saw her star rapidly rise as a series of sculptures became best-sellers in bronze. Her long career absorbed the interruptions of two world wars (when bronze became scarce, and her foundries converted to munitions factories) and a critical shift towards abstraction. Nonetheless her Beaux-Arts traditionalism retained popular favor and has recently enjoyed a surge of reassessment in the twenty-first century.