Charles Allan Grafly, Jr.
December 3, 1862|
|Died||May 5, 1929
|Education||"Spring Garden Institute
"Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
"École des Beaux Arts
|Notable work||Pioneer Mother (San Francisco)
Meade Memorial (Washington, D.C.)
Charles Allan Grafly, Jr. (December 3, 1862 – May 5, 1929) was an American sculptor and teacher.
He created heroic sculpture for international expositions and war memorials, but also was noted for his small bronzes and portrait busts. His work is in the collections of the "Metropolitan Museum of Art, the "National Gallery of Art, the "Smithsonian American Art Museum, the "National Portrait Gallery, the "Whitney Museum of American Art, the "National Academy of Design, the "Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and other museums.
Grafly was born in the "Chestnut Hill section of "Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of the 8 children of Charles and Elizabeth (Simmons) Grafly. His family were "Quaker farmers, and of German and Dutch heritage.:118 He attended Philadelphia public schools, and developed an interest in art at an early age. At 17 he apprenticed himself to John Struthers & Sons Marble Works, at that time one of the largest stone carving ventures in the country.:118 He spent four years carving ornament and figures for "Philadelphia City Hall, under the direction of sculptor "Alexander Milne Calder.:118
To improve his understanding of anatomy and his skill at carving figures, he began attending night classes at the "Spring Garden Institute. He studied under "Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts beginning in 1884, and followed Eakins to the "Art Students' League of Philadelphia in 1886. He later returned to PAFA and studied under "Thomas Anshutz.:118
Grafly moved to Paris in 1888, where he studied for a year at the "Académie Julian—drawing under "Tony Robert-Fleury, painting under "William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and sculpture under "Henri Chapu.:119 He shared a flat with fellow American art students "Robert Henri, Harry Finney, William Hoefeker, and James Randolph Fisher. In 1889 he gained admittance to the "École des Beaux Arts, but only stayed one year. He exhibited two ideal busts, Saint John and Daedalus at the "Paris Salon of 1890. He exhibited his first major work, a life-size female nude, Mauvais Presage, at the Salon of 1891, which received an Honorable Mention. It is now at the "Detroit Institute of Arts.
The death of his father brought Grafly back to Philadelphia in early 1892,:119 and he began teaching at the "Drexel Institute and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA created the position of "Instructor of Sculpture" for Grafly, and under him the sculpture department was put "on an equal footing with painting for the first time.":119 He took a one-year sabbatical in 1895, to get married and create what he hoped would be his masterpiece.:119
In Paris, he began work on The Vulture of War, a nightmarish sculpture group depicting carnage and death. It quickly evolved from a two-figure work into a three-figure work, and ultimately a four-figure work.:123 These consisted of a helmeted central figure (War); wielding another man as a weapon (swinging him like a scythe); a lifeless woman (Death and Destruction); and a sinister figure holding the globe under his foot and dragging a bag of plunder. Sculptor "Jean Dampt provided Grafly with weekly criticism as his work progressed.:119 Of the four figures, only the plunderer was completed by the end of his sabbatical. Grafly returned to teaching at PAFA in Fall 1896, but continued to work on the sculpture group. A heroic-sized plaster of the plunderer was exhibited at PAFA's 1898 annual exhibition,:219 and was part of Grafly's gold-medal-winning exhibit at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The plaster was also part of Grafly's exhibit at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, but it was abandoned there when he could not afford the freight fees to ship it back to Philadelphia.:171
Grafly was commissioned in 1898 to create two colossal busts for the "Smith Memorial Arch, a "Civil War monument in "Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.:119 Following sculptor "William Ordway Partridge's withdrawal, Grafly also created the memorial's 15-foot (4.6 m) statue of General "John F. Reynolds.
Grafly was commissioned to create a fountain for the 1901 "Pan-American Exposition in "Buffalo, New York, with architect Charles Dudley Arnold. The Fountain of Man was crowned by an eerie half-hooded central figure, Man, the Mysterious, with two faces representing the two natures of Man. Supporting the fountain's upper basin were nude figures representing the 5 senses, and supporting the lower basin were four pairs of crouching male and female "atlantes, each couple representing conflicting emotions— love and hate, ambition and despair, etc. Sculptor Lorado Taft wrote:
When opportunity comes, and with it demand for a man's highest abilites, he who has always done his best has himself well in hand. Such an opportunity came to Mr. Grafly at the Pan-American Exposition. While the sculptural decorations of that most charming of fairs were as a rule well suited to their purpose, and contributed much to its beauty, there were few features of striking originality. The one which stands out in memory as of permanent value, as a lasting contribution to the art of this country, is Mr. Grafly's "Fountain of Man."
Grafly served as a member of the Art Jury for the 1904 "Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, and designed the medal that was awarded to winning artists. Following sculptor "John Quincy Adams Ward's withdrawal, Grafly was asked to create a heroic-size seated figure of Thomas Jefferson for the Cascade Garden. His Vérité (Truth) was carved in marble, and installed in a niche flanking the main entrance to the Palace of Fine Arts (now the "Saint Louis Art Museum). His sculpture group, Electricity, was installed over an entrance to the Palace of Electricity.
Grafly's best known sculpture is probably the Pioneer Mother Monument (1913-15) in "San Francisco, California.:370 John E. D. Trask, a museum administrator and former managing director of the "Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, headed the Fine Arts Department for the planned 1915 "Panama-Pacific Exposition. The Pioneer Mother Monument Association raised $22,500 for the project, and in 1913 Trask commissioned Grafly to create the sculpture. Grafly's plaster sketches are preserved at "Wichita State University's "Ulrich Museum of Art, and an early iteration of the work is almost comical—a stalward mother balancing screaming twin infants, one on each arm. Grafly's final model went in another direction, granting the woman and her two naked toddlers a simple dignity. The casting took longer than expected, and the sculpture was not in place for the exhibition's March 2, 1915 opening. Set on a 26 foot (7.9 m) stepped concrete base, the monument was dedicated on June 30, 1915.
The Pioneer Mother monument, by Charles Grafly, is a permanent bronze, a tribute by the people of the West to the women who laid the foundation of their welfare. It is to stand in the San Francisco Civic Center, where its masterful simplicity will be more impressive than in this colorful colonnade. It is a true addition to noteworthy American works of art and fully expresses the spirit of this courageous motherhood, tender but strong, adventurous but womanly, enduring but not humble. It has escaped every pitfall of mawkishness, stubbornly refused to descend to mere prettiness, and lived up to the noblest possibilites of its theme. The strong hands, the firmly set feet, the clear, broad brow of the Mother and the uncompromisingly simple, sculpturally pure lines of figure and garments are honest and commanding in beauty. The children, too, are modeled with affectionate sincerity and are a realistic interpretation of childish charm. Oxen skulls, pine cones, leaves and cacti decorate the base; the panels show the old sailing vessel, the Golden Gate, and the transcontinental trails.
The relocation of the monument to the city's Civic Center never happened, and the sculpture was discovered during the "Great Depression, weather-beaten and vandalized, amidst the ruins of the 1915 world's fair. Civic and historical groups, notably the "Native Daughters of the Golden West, raised money to restore the sculpture for the 1939 "Golden Gate International Exposition, after which it was installed in "Golden Gate Park, and rededicated on December 8, 1940.
Grafly modeled dozens of portrait heads and busts; many as commissions, but also of friends and family members. In 1898, he modeled a bust of Hugh H. Breckenridge, the first in what became a three-decade series of busts of fellow artists. The sitter sometimes painted a portrait of Grafly in exchange. "Lorado Taft claimed "there is no sculptor in this country who can make a finer bust.":370 Critic Helen W. Henderson wrote:
The bust of Henry Lorenz Viereck, entomologist, is the unique work of Charles Grafly in Washington. [D.C.] It is owned by the sitter. This bust, made about 1908, is one of the most successful of that series of portrait busts commenced by the sculptor a few years ago, and including at the present time, many distinguished artists, doctors, and specialists in other fields. In the department of portrait busts Grafly stands unrivalled in his generation. The head of Viereck is extremely typical of the quality and character of the sculptor's achievement.
Grafly modeled two of the colossal figures for the façade of the "Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Manhattan, New York City. His allegorical figure of England (1903-07) features a young "Queen Victoria dressed in armor, holding the wand of "Hermes and accompanied by the shield of St. George and a ship's wheel. His allegorical figure of France (1904-07) features a goddess crowned with a "laurel wreath, holding a sceptre, a sheaf of wheat and a bronze statuette representing the Fine Arts, and accompanied by a "Gallic rooster and the ancient god "Dusios. Both figures were carved in limestone by the "Piccirilli Brothers.
The most prestigious commission of Grafly's career was the Major General "George Gordon Meade Memorial (1915-27), a monument on the "National Mall in Washington, D.C. "General Meade (1815–1872) had been commander of the decisive "Union victory at "Gettysburg, and the memorial was the gift of Pennsylvania to the nation. It was originally located south of "Pennsylvania Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd Streets NW—a site now mostly covered by the "Capitol Reflecting Pool. This was opposite and slightly north of the "Ulysses S. Grant Memorial.
On January 21, 1915, President "Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress creating the federal commission for the Meade Memorial.:43 On November 23, 1915, the commission chose Grafly as the sculptor and Simon & Bassett (later Simon & Simon) as the architects for the project.:44 Grafly's sculpture program went through several iterations before it was granted preliminary approval by the D.C. Commission of Fine Arts, 3 years later.:44 His design mixed the literal, the allegorical and the fantastical, and was granted final approval in January 1922.:45
The memorial groups 8 figures in a circle. The primary figure of General Meade, dressed in his Civil War uniform, faces south. He is flanked by six nude allegorical figures – Loyalty, Fame and Energy on the west side; Chivalry, Progress and Military Courage on the east side – representing qualities that Grafly "believed were necessary for the character of a great general." Facing north is a second primary figure, the dark angel of War, "unchanged since war first ravaged the world.":8 He wears a helmet, breastplate and cape, and before him stands a "knightly sword, ready to be taken up when necessary. "War... holds in his grim clutch two memorial tablets [on which are listed Meade's military battles]. His wings, in long sweeping curves, stretch toward the standard which Loyalty holds... The side groups are thus outlined against the ominous shadow of the wings of War.":8 Loyalty and Chivalry remove General Meade's "cloak of battle." "Loyalty also raises aloft over Meade's head a standard [ "(Legion eagle) ] of wreaths and garlands, in commemoration of great achievement.":8
The "Piccirilli Brothers carved the figures in white Tennessee marble. The cylindrical base is gray granite, and the stepped circular platform is Milford pink granite. The memorial was dedicated on October 19, 1927.
The Meade Memorial was dismantled in 1969, to make way for excavation of the "3rd Street Tunnel under the National Mall, and construction of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Following 14 years in storage, the memorial was restored, and reinstalled on the entrance plaza of the "E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in 1983, one block northwest of its original site.
Grafly was commissioned to create a memorial to Major General "Galusha Pennypacker for Philadelphia. Pennypacker had been a vigorous and courageous man, promoted to general at age 22 during the Civil War. Grafly's concept was to depict him as a burly, bare-chested Roman soldier, standing atop a chariot-like cannon, and flanked by tigers. Grafly worked on the project, 1921-26, before setting it aside to concentrate on the Meade Memorial.:119 He passed the commission on to his former student "Albert Laessle, who completed the memorial in 1934, based on Grafly's designs.:119
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts awarded Grafly its 1899 Converse Gold Medal of Honor, "for distinguished services to art and to the Academy." The National Sculpture Society awarded him its 1905 J. Q. A. Ward Prize. PAFA awarded him the first "Widener Gold Medal for Sculpture at its 1913 annual exhibition, for his portrait bust of "Thomas Anshutz.:220 The Philadelphia Water Color Club awarded him its 1916 Lea First Prize (for drawing). The National Academy of Design awarded him its 1919 Watrous Gold Medal, for his portrait bust of Childe Hassam. The "Chicago Art Institute awarded him its 1921 Potter Palmer Gold Medal, and the Concord Art Association awarded him its 1922 Medal of Honor, both for his portrait bust of Frank Duveneck.
Grafly was a founding member of the "National Sculpture Society (1893), served on its Council, and was later elected a Fellow. He was elected an associate member of the "National Academy of Design in 1902, and an academician in 1905. ("Robert Henri painted Grafly's NAD diploma portrait.) He was a member of the "Philadelphia Art Club, the "Architectural League of New York, the "National Institute of Arts and Letters, and other arts organizations.
Grafly married Frances Sekeles of "Corinth, Mississippi, on June 7, 1895. They had one daughter, Dorothy (1896–1980), born in Paris during his sabbatical from PAFA. The Graflys lived at 2140 N. 12th Street, Philadelphia, and he had a studio at 2200 Arch Street.
Except for his sabbatical in 1895-96, Grafly taught at PAFA from 1892 to his death in 1929. Among his students were sculptors Eugene Castello, Nancy Coonsman, George Demetrios, "Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, "Walker Hancock, Charles Harley, Albert Laessle, "Paul Manship, "Eleanor Mary Mellon, Louis Milione, "Albin Polasek, "Dudley Pratt, "Lawrence Tenney Stevens, and "Katherine Lane Weems.
In 1905, Grafly bought property in Lanesville, "Gloucester, Massachusetts, and built a house and studio that he named "Fool's Paradise.":119 Favored PAFA students were invited to visit and use his studio. Following the 1917 death of sculptor "Bela Pratt, Grafly taught (additionally) at the "School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He made "Fool's Paradise" his residence year-round, and commuted to Philadelphia or Boston by train.
Walker Hancock considered Grafly "the pre-eminent instructor of sculpture in this country," and came to PAFA in 1920 specifically to study under him.:21 Hancock won awards for his work as a student, two traveling scholarships and, after graduation, the 1925 "Prix de Rome in sculpture. In April 1929, on the day he returned to Philadelphia from the "American Academy in Rome, Hancock heard the news—Grafly had been struck by a hit-and-run driver the night before.:68-69
During the ensuing days, even though he was gradually failing, we had the opportunity to talk about things that concerned him. Two things were very much on his mind. He asked me to make sure that the wreath behind the head of General Meade in the Meade Memorial in Washington would be freshly gilded. His other worry was that the landscaping around his statue of James Buchanan in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had not been carried out. He wanted me to see that this was done.
In the period of his hospitalization and suffering, Grafly told Mr. [John Andrew] Myers [Director of PAFA] that he wanted me to take his place as instructor of sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy. He lived only two weeks after the accident.:68-69
Hancock was among those who eulogized Grafly at his memorial service.:68-69 The pall bearers at his funeral included former students Albert Laessle and Albin Polasek; and artists Hugh Breckenridge, "Edward Redfield, Robert Henri and Albert Rosenthal.:119
Dorothy Grafly became an art critic and author. Her biography of her father, The Sculptor's Clay: Charles Grafly (1862–1929), was published by Wichita State University in 1996.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts owns about twenty of Grafly's bronzes in its collection. The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University possesses over two hundred of his works, mostly plaster casts, a bequest of Dorothy Grafly Drummond (the artist's daughter).
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