Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (American, 1875–1942)
18 3/4 x 6 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (47.6 x 16.5 x 14 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1922 (22.81)
This figure was a study for one of three standing male nudes that support the basin of an overlifesize marble fountain at McGill University in Montreal. The title of the bronze statuette, Caryatid, describes the figure's function as an architectural support, but its gender makes it more correctly an atlas. Though Whitney positioned the subject in a classical contrapposto, both arms upraised supporting a heavy weight, she acknowledged the enormous impact of French sculptor Auguste Rodin by emphasizing the contrasts of light and shadow that serve alternately to reveal and to mask the figure. The physical force Whitney suggested through the taut musculature of the arms, legs, and back is also indebted to Rodin.