There’s a lot to be said for a building as full of art as the Metropolitan Museum of Art: if you don’t like one piece, you can shift your gaze a foot and see another. But there’s also much to be said for giving artworks – especially sculptures – space to breathe. At Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, S.C., they have several hundred acres.
Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband, scholar and poet Archer Huntington (of the railroad Huntingtons), purchased 9,000 acres in South Carolina in the early 1930s. They established Brookgreen Gardens as a place to display Huntington’s sculptures and other American figurative sculpture among native American plants. In the section of the property open to the public, separate gardens highlight individual sculptures. If I could visit this place even half as often as I’ve recommended it, I’d be very happy.
Augustus Saint Gaudens, Diana, 1893
The original 14 1/2-feet-tall Diana graced the tower of Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden from 1893 to 1925. That version is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Saint Gaudens also created smaller versions of Diana. The Metropolitan Museum’s gilded 8 1/2-feet tall Diana presides over the American Wing Courtyard.
At Brookgreen, Diana (also 8 1/2 feet tall) has even more breathing space: she’s on a tall pillar, overlooking a pool with fountains.
Anna Hyatt Huntington, Diana of the Chase, 1922
A better pic of Diana of the Chase is here – its copyright status isn’t obvious, so I won’t include it. (Incidentally, that’s why all my photos in this post and elsehwere have a copyright notice on them: as a scholar and image researcher, I’m frequently exasperated not to be able to figure out whose property a given photo is. Orphaned photos, like orphaned books, are risky to reproduce.)
Evelyn Beatrice Longman, Victory, 1904
Longman (1874-1954) was the only woman who worked as an assistant to Daniel Chester French. Victory launched her career, winning a medal at the Lousiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. I couldn’t find a copyright-free image of Victory at Brookgreen Gardens, so this one is courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum.
Richard McDermott Miller, Wind on Water, 1992
At Brookgreen, Wind on Water is poised with one foot on the ground, the other stepping into space above a pond. Brookgreen sells prints of it here. This is my pic from 2002 – low-res enough, I hope, to make it inoffensive for copyright reasons.
Janet Scudder, Frog Baby, 1901
Scudder (1873-1940), who studied with Frederick MacMonnies in Paris, was famous for sculpting charming bronzes to stand in gardens. She sold many works to Stanford White, architect of homes of the rich and famous as well as of the original Madison Square Garden.
- Brookgreen Gardens’s website is here. For more on the history of Brookgreen see this article, which includes comments from Robin Salmon, Vice President of Collections and Curator of Sculpture at Brookgreen.
- Books on Brookgreen: Robin Salmon has written two pictorial histories for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series: Brookgreen Gardens and Sculpture of Brookgreen Gardens. They include black-and-white photos from the Brookgreen archives and substantial captions. Brookgreen Gardens: Through the Seasons in Images and Words has photos of sculpture and other subjects at the Brookgreen, plus an introduction on Archer Huntington and poetry and poems written by staff and volunteers. My go-to book for info on American figurative sculptors is Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture (volume I by Beatrice Proske, 1968; volume II by Robin Salmon, 1993), which can be purchased new at Brookgreen Gardens, or used on Amazon. I’m also very fond of Salmon’s American Masters: Sculpture from Brookgreen Gardens, which includes excellent photos and short biographies of sculptors (also out of print, but available used).
- Biography of Anna Hyatt Huntington with notes on various casts of Diana of the Chase.
- On the versions of Saint Gaudens’s Diana, see here.
- Archer Huntington also established the Hispanic Society of America, in Manhattan at 155th Street, whose courtyard includes many works by his wife Anna: the stunning Cid with four life-size warriors at the foot of its pedestal, two elaborate flagpole bases, reliefs of Don Quixote and Boabdil, and six groups of the animal sculptures at which Anna excelled. Contact the Hispanic Society before visiting – renovation is under way, and the courtyard may sometimes be inaccessible. I discuss the Cid and the other HSA sculptures at length here.
- New York City has two more of Huntington’s sculptures on display outdoors: Joan of Arc (Brookgreen has a reduced copy) and Jose Marti. See also Outdoor Monuments of Manhattan (essays 33 and 44) and the videoguide version, Monuments of Manhattan.
- A cast of Diana of the Hunt is owned by the National Academy Museum, which used to be housed in the Huntingtons’ townhouse on Fifth Avenue near 89th Street. The Academy is selling the townhouse to raise an endowment: if you’re in the market for grand and gorgeous, the realtor’s listing is here. I met the NAM’s curator at the door of the ex-Museum last week: she promised to take good care of Diana in Transit, but didn’t offer any info on when or where the Museum will be open for visitors again.
- Longman’s most famous work is the stunning Genius of Electricity, later named the Spirit of Communication, nicknamed “Golden Boy”. It was designed in 1916 to top the AT&T Building in Manhattan (here), and is now at AT&T headquarters in Dallas, Texas. This fabulous 10-minute video includes great archival photos of it in Manhattan, and of its renovation and regilding in 1983. Thanks to Eric Kalin for the link.
- Brookgreen Gardens is on the site of four rice plantations, including The Oaks, which has the Alston (or Allston) family cemetery. The cemetery has a memorial to Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia, who married Joseph Alston, later governor of South Carolina. Theodosia was lost at sea in 1813. Burr’s daughter Theodosia made a brief appearance in my third post on Hamilton: An American Musical.