Janet Scudder

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Janet Scudder
Janet Scudder.jpg
Born(1869-10-27)October 27, 1869
DiedJune 9, 1940(1940-06-09) (aged 70)
EducationRose Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Cincinnati Art Academy, Académie Colarossi
Known forSculpture
Brookgreen Gardens - sculpture garden: Seated Faun by Janet Scudder, 1924. Signed on left of base
Brookgreen Gardens - sculpture garden: Seated Faun by Janet Scudder, 1924. Signed on left of base

Janet Scudder (October 27, 1869 – June 9, 1940) was an American sculptor.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Netta Deweze Frazee Scudder in Terre Haute, Indiana, Scudder had a childhood marred by tragedy.[1] Her father, William Hollingshead Scudder, was a confectioner who was active in community affairs. Her mother, Mary Sparks, died at 38 and four of her seven siblings died before they reached adulthood. Scudder was raised by Hannah Hussey, the family maid, cook and nurse, with whom she did not get along.[2]

As a child Scudder studied drawing under Professor William Ames of Rose Polytechnic Institute of Technology, now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.[2] Despite his fragile financial resources, her father enrolled her in the Cincinnati Art Academy so she could study sculpture with Louis Rebisso.[1] She focused on woodcarving and adopted the given name "Janet".[2] Her father, William Scudder, died September 15, 1888, while his precocious daughter was teaching woodcarving at Coates College for Women in Terre Haute.


Scudder moved to Chicago in 1891, and was briefly employed as a wood carver in a furniture factory – a job she ultimately lost because the union did not permit women members. She found work with the sculptor Lorado Taft as an assistant, making $5 a day working on monumental sculptures for the Chicago World's Fair.[3] She was one of a group of women sculptors and assistants nicknamed the White Rabbits.[1] Scudder was also commissioned to create a figure of Justice for the Illinois state building and a sculpture of a nymph for Indiana.[4]

After seeing Frederick W. MacMonnies' fountain "the Barge of State" at the World's Fair, she decided to go to Paris and work for him. She was the first woman to be employed at his atelier.[1] While in Paris Scudder also studied at the Académie Vitti and at the Académie Colarossi.[5][6]

Frog Fountain. Bronze, 1901. In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1896, after two years in Paris, Scudder returned to America and tried and failed to find work as a sculptor. Her friendship with fellow art student Matilda Auchincloss Brownell led to Scudder's first serious commission to design the seal for the New York Bar Association, an opportunity made possible by Brownell's father Silas B. Brownell, who was the Secretary of the New York Bar Association from 1878-1916.[7] [8] From that point on she had steady work sculpting portrait medallions, architectural ornament, and funerary urns.[4]

In 1898 Scudder returned to Paris with Brownell, then spent a year traveling through Italy where she found fresh inspiration in the cherubic figures of Donatello and Verrocchio.[6] She began making amusing sculptures and fountains featuring lively children, her "water babies." With works like Frog Fountain, Scudder became one of the most prolific and successful makers of garden sculptures.[1] She was frequently commissioned to make them for the homes of wealthy Americans like John D. Rockefeller and Henry Huntington.[4]

In Paris Scudder's social circle grew to include Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Mildred Aldrich, and Eve Mudocci.[9] Malvina Hoffman worked as her studio assistant.[10] Scudder was a feminist and suffragette who frequently marched in parades and demonstrations involved with women's issues. She opposed having separate exhibitions for male and female artists and disliked being described as a woman artist.[11] She was a member of the art committee of the National American Women Suffrage Association.[4]

Scudder was elected an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1920, and was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for her relief work during World War I. She published an autobiography, Modeling My Life, in 1925.[4] A portrait of Scudder in the National Academy of Design collection was painted by Margaret Bucknell Pecorini.[12]

Scudder lived in Paris until 1939, when she returned to New York to reside with her companion, author Marion Benedict Cothren. She died of pneumonia on June 9, 1940 in Rockport, Massachusetts.[3]

Selected work[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Conner, Janis, and Joel Rosenkranz (1989). Rediscoveries in American Sculpture, Studio Works 1893–1939. Austin: University of Texas.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Newton, Judith Vale, and Carol Ann Weiss (2004). Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana's Historical Women Artists. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. ISBN 0-87195-177-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Opitz, Glenn B., ed. (1986). Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. Poughkeepsie, New York: Apollo Book.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Proske, Beatrice Gilman (1968). Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture. South Carolina: Brookgreen Gardens.


  1. ^ a b c d e Rubinstein, Charlotte S. (1982). American Women Artists. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall & Co. p. 94.
  2. ^ a b c College, Radcliffe (1971). Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674627345.
  3. ^ a b "JANET SCUDDER, SCULPTOR, DIES, 66; One of the World's Foremost Women in Field Succumbs in Summer Home FAMOUS FOR FOUNTAINS Works Shown in 14 Museums --Had Lived in Paris for 45 Years--Also a Painter Returned Here Last Fall Worked at Chicago Fair of '93 Some of Her Sculptures Aided French in Two Wars" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  4. ^ a b c d e N.Y.), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York; Dimmick, Lauretta; Hassler, Donna J. (1999). American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: A catalogue of works by artists born between 1865 and 1885. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780870999239.
  5. ^ "Vitti, ??-??", The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, University of Glasgow, retrieved 2017-07-17
  6. ^ a b College, Radcliffe (1971). Notable American Women, 1607–1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674627345.
  7. ^ https://www.nycbar.org/about/governance/presidents-and-officers
  8. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=S_xvDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA365&dq=matilda+brownell&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiI5-XepLTfAhWK3oMKHUkbABgQ6AEINzAD#v=onepage&q=matilda%20brownell&f=false
  9. ^ Meyer, Steven (2003). Irresistible Dictation: Gertrude Stein and the Correlations of Writing and Science. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804749305.
  10. ^ Dearinger, David Bernard; (U.S.), National Academy of Design (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826-1925. Hudson Hills. ISBN 9781555950293.
  11. ^ Grasso, Linda M. (2017). Equal Under the Sky: Georgia O’Keeffe and Twentieth-Century Feminism. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 9780826358820.
  12. ^ David Bernard Dearinger; National Academy of Design (U.S.) (2004). Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826–1925. Hudson Hills. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-1-55595-029-3.

External links[edit]

  • Paintings by Janet Scudder, announcement for an exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF)
  • Janet Scudder in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website Edit this at Wikidata