National Museum of Women in the Arts
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
September 17 1880 - January 01 1980
Photograph of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth with The Dancers, 1921 and The Star, 1918, unknown date, unknown photographer. Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
HAIR-ee-eht WIHT-nee FRIHSH-muhth
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Decorative and utilitarian works, Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Bronze Worker, Decorative Artist, Marble Worker, Plasterer, Sculptor, Medalist
Artist's Biography:
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth was one of the ground-breaking female sculptors of the early twentieth century. Her figural sculptures, of both humans and animals, demonstrate her acute sense of movement, form, and composition. Her nude women, whether running, relaxing, dancing, or jumping, reveal her mastery of the female form in liberated and energetic poses.

Born in Philadelphia in 1880, Frishmuth moved with her mother and sisters to Europe at an early age and enrolled in a sculpting class in Paris taught by Auguste Rodin. She spent two years in Berlin assisting Professor Cuno von Uechtritz and later returned to the United States and studied with Hermon MacNeil and Gutzon Borglum at The Art Students League in New York and with Karl Bitter in Weehawken, New Jersey. Desiring a greater understanding of anatomy, Frishmuth studied dissection at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York for two years. Although the artist quickly developed a reputation as a talented sculptor, Frishmuth initially earned a living designing bronze bookends, ashtrays, small figures, and a few large-scale figures in the classical style of Daniel Chester French.

In 1913, Frishmuth and her mother moved to Sniffen Court in New York where she opened her own studio. It was there, at the converted farm, that Frishmuth developed her characteristic lyrical style. Inspired by the ballet, Frishmuth captured wildly uninhibited movements and emotions in her bronze sculptures. Her work The Vine, (1921), representing a woodland nymph bending backward on tiptoes in an exaggerated arabesque, was immensely popular, and is now in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Frishmuth also created marble busts, male figural sculptures, and animal sculptures--all executed with sleek lines and elegant shapes. In 1937, she closed her studio and returned to Philadelphia where her output steadily declined due to the economic repercussions of the Great Depression and the growing popularity of abstract art.

Frishmuth, who was a member of the National Sculpture Society, Allied Artists of America, American Federation of the Arts, and other art societies, became a member of the National Academy of Design in 1929. She exhibited at the Paris Salon, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and other international venues.

Other Occupation(s):
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
Place(s) of Activity:
Sniffen Court
Where Trained/Schools:
The Art Students League of New York, New York, NY, USA (ca. 1906-1908) College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA (1904-1906) Académie Colarossi, Paris, France (1899)
Related Visual Artists:
colleague of Cuno von Uechtritz student of Auguste Rodin student of Jean-Antoine Injalbert student of Henri Gauquié student of Gutzon Borglum student of Herman A. MacNeil student of Karl Bitter
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Shaw Memorial Prize, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1923) Watrous Gold Medal, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1922) Barnett Prize, National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1915)
Earliest exhibition:
Le Salon, Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France (1903)
Artist retrospective(s):
Small Bronzes of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, OH, USA (2001) The Philadelphia Ten, Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1998)
Related places
Waterbury (died at)