Young Faun with Heron, 1890, this cast ca. 1902
Frederick William MacMonnies (American, 1863–1937)
Bronze; 26 3/4 x 11 x 16 in. (67.9 x 27.9 x 40.6 cm)
Purchase, Diane, Daniel, and Mathew Wolf Gift, in honor of Ms. Thayer Tolles, 2007 (2008.26)
In 1890, the French-trained sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies completed a full-scale bronze for the garden of Naumkeag, the country residence of Joseph H. Choate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Young Faun with Heron, which depicts a boy playfully wrestling with a protesting heron, was subsequently issued in an unlimited edition of bronze reductions, from the first proof produced in Paris in 1890 (also in the Metropolitan) to those cast later in New York. When statuettes enjoyed consistent commercial popularity in French and American showrooms, artists would often invest in bronze "master models" to be used during the foundry process. Unlike softer plaster casts that wear down after several molds have been pulled, these master casts retain their crispness of detail and accurate scale, ensuring that the resulting bronze statuettes are consistently true to the artist's original aesthetic intent.
The master model for Young Faun with Heron is particularly complex and sophisticated. Eighteen pins at the joins secure nine separate pieces, and the extremely fine attention to textural detail is especially evident in the heron's enveloping wings and the boy's smooth flesh. American master models with visible pins and seam lines are extremely rare; this is the first to enter the Metropolitan's collection.