Frances Grimes

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Frances Grimes
Frances Grimes as Iris, June 1905.jpg
Born Frances Taft Grimes
(1869-01-25)January 25, 1869
Braceville, Ohio
Died November 9, 1963(1963-11-09) (aged 94)
New York City
Nationality American
Education Pratt Institute
Known for Sculptor, teacher
Notable work Girls Singing (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Frances Taft Grimes (25 January 1869 – 9 November 1963) was an American sculptor, best remembered for her bas-relief portraits and busts.


Grimes was born in Braceville, Ohio, the daughter of two physicians, and grew up in Decatur, Illinois.[1] After attending local schools, she operated a sculpture studio in Decatur for about two years, before moving to Brooklyn, New York City to study at the Pratt Institute.[2] Following graduation, she worked from 1894 to 1900 as the assistant to her former teacher, sculptor Herbert Adams, who called her "the best marble-cutter in America".[3] During the summers, she joined Adams and his wife, Adeline, at the Cornish, New Hampshire art colony. It was there that she met sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens, who persuaded her to join him as his full-time studio assistant. She worked with him from 1900 to his death in 1907.[4] Grimes stayed on at Saint Gaudens's studio to finish several of his commissions, including the Phillips Brooks Memorial at Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts (dedicated 1910);[5] and eight larger-than-life caryatids for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, which she executed from his sketch models. Grimes recalled her experiences at Cornish in her unpublished "Reminiscences" (Special Collections, Dartmouth College Library).[6]

Following six months in France, Italy and Greece,[3] she moved to New York City in 1908, taking a studio on Macdougal Alley in Greenwich Village.[7] Grimes worked in bronze and marble.[4] She exhibited at the National Sculpture Society, whose 1929 catalog states that her work included "many bas-relief portraits, and busts, especially of children."[8]

Sleepy Hollow panel[edit]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1916), Washington Irving High School, New York City

Grimes had a major success with her bas-relief panel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1915). Designed as an overmantel for the lobby of the all-girls Washington Irving High School in New York City, it features three life-sized female seated figures reading Irving's classic story. Critic Adeline Adams saluted the work in the national magazine Art and Progress:

"For me, this relief remains a most satisfying example of modern American sculpture. It delights because of the fitness of the theme and treatment to the purpose specified, the architectural strength of the design, the dignity, delicacy and sureness of the modeling, the harmonious rhythms of the figures and draperies; in short, because of its general state of grace as a modern classic."[9]

Grimes died at age 94 in New York City in November 1963. The following summer, a memorial exhibition of her sculpture was held at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.[1]

Selected works[edit]

Bust of Charlotte Cushing (1925), Hall of Fame for Great Americans, Bronx, New York City.

Honors and awards[edit]

Grimes was elected a member of the National Sculpture Society in 1912, and a member emeritus in 1961.[27] She was elected an Associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1931, and a full Academician in 1945.[26] She was also a member of National Association of Women Artists and of the American Federation of Arts.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e Metropolitan Museum of Art; Tolles, Thayer; Dimmick, Lauretta; Hassler, Donna J. (2001-01-01). American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a catalogue of works by artists born between 1865 and 1885. New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 515-17. ISBN 9780870999239. 
  2. ^ "Sculptor Dies: Frances Grimes — the name has meaning to long-timers," The Decatur Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois), November 17, 1963, p. 13.
  3. ^ a b Lucia Fairchild Fuller, "Frances Grimes: A Sculptor in Whose Works One Reads Delicacy," Arts & Decoration, New York, N.Y.: Artspur Publications, Inc. vol. 14, no. 1 (November 1920), pp. 34, 74.
  4. ^ a b Petteys, Chris (1985). Dictionary of Women Artists: an international dictionary of women artists born before 1900. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. p. 299. ISBN 0816184569. 
  5. ^ Phillips Brooks, from SIRIS.
  6. ^ Grimes, Frances. Material on awards, honors, and society memberships.  from Dartmouth College Library.
  7. ^ a b c d Streifer Rubinstein, Charlotte (1990). American Women Scupltors. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. pp. 125–126. ISBN 0816187320. 
  8. ^ National Sculpture Society (1929). Contemporary American Sculpture. New York, N.Y.: National Sculpture Society, p. 134.
  9. ^ Adeline Adams, "A Relief by Frances Grimes," Art and Progress, vol. 6, no. 7 (May 1915), p. 217.
  10. ^ Bishop Henry C. Potter, from SIRIS.
  11. ^ Boy with Duck, from Toledo Museum of Art.
  12. ^ Child with Goose, from SIRIS.
  13. ^ a b c Heller, Jules & Nancy (1995). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: a biographical dictionary. New York: Garland Publishing. p. 227. ISBN 0824060490. 
  14. ^ Girl by Pool, from Toledo Museum of Art.
  15. ^ Girl by a Pool, from Brookgreen Gardens.
  16. ^ Municipal Art Society of New York, "The Grimes Overmantel" (1915-01-01). Bulletin of the Municipal Art Society of New York. p. 5. 
  17. ^ Sleepy Hollow Panel, from SIRIS.
  18. ^ "Girls Singing". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  19. ^ The Marine Biological Laboratory, Twenty-First Report; For the Year 1918 (Woods Hole, Massachusetts: 1919), p. 354.[1]
  20. ^ Dr. Will Barnes, from SIRIS.
  21. ^ "Charlotte Cushman - Hall of Fame for Great Americans - Face-to-Face Online Tour". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  22. ^ Charlotte Saunders Cushman, from SIRIS.
  23. ^ "Emma Willard - Hall of Fame for Great Americans - Face-to-Face Online Tour". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  24. ^ Emma Willard, from SIRIS.
  25. ^ Lyn Harris, "Chi Omega's National Achievement Award 1930-58", from Fraternity & Sorority History.
  26. ^ a b "Frances Grimes - National Academicians". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  27. ^ Historic Members, from National Sculpture Society.
  28. ^ "Frances Grimes - Artist Biography for Frances Grimes". Retrieved 2016-03-05. 
  29. ^ Peter Hastings Falk, ed., The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA, 1989), vol. 2, p. 224; vol. 3, p. 215.