Alexander Phimister Proctor (American, 1862–1950)
9 1/2 x 37 1/2 x 6 1/4 in. (24.1 x 95.3 x 15.9 cm)
Purchased, William Cullen Bryant Fellows Gifts and Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1996 (1996.561)
Proctor is recognized today as one of America's foremost sculptors of animals and Native Americans. His family relocated to Colorado during his youth, and it was there that he made his first sketches of wild animals and their natural habitat. Proctor based an early version of Stalking Panther on these childhood observations, studies of two panthers in New York's Central Park Zoo, and dissections of cats and cougars. The elongated cat in mid-stride reflects the artist's interest in depicting animals as forces of uncivilized nature. Proctor's reputation as a scientist-artist is substantiated in the accurate rendering of the muscle and skeletal structure of the animal. Yet the piece is more than an anatomical assessment, it is a psychologically engaging study of predatory motion toward an unseen prey. The statuette was exhibited at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, along with Proctor's thirty-five outdoor models depicting western life. He took a plaster cast of Stalking Panther with him to Paris in 1894 and continued to refine the composition. Using a shaved cat for anatomical reference, Proctor completed his second version and had it cast; he later referred to it as his "first real bronze."