Enid Yandell

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(American, Kentucky/Massachusetts 1870 - 1934)

One of the most striking qualities of the sculpture of Enid Yandell is its impressive physical range in sizes. Her statue of Athena (since destroyed), which once stood in front of a reproduction of the Parthenon at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exhibition in Nashville, was twenty-five feet high at that time the largest
figure ever designed by a woman. Yet, she also designed a little silver tankard for the Tiffany Company, on which a fisher boy kisses a mermaid whenever the lid is lifted, and leans toward her over the edge as long as it is closed.

A leading sculptor in New York at the turn of the century, Yandell was born in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduation from the Cincinnati Art Academy, she left the Midwest to study in New York with the French sculptor Philip Martiny, and in Paris with Auguste Rodin and Frederick MacMonnies.

In 1893, she helped Lorado Taft and also did a great deal of independent work for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, including a statue of Daniel Boone (now standing in Louisville, Kentucky) and the caryatids for the Womans Building. She won a Designers Medal at the Exposition.

Her works, both large and small, seem to attempt, like so much art of her period, to embody literary and sometimes ponderously philosophical ideas. The Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain (1901) in Providence, Rhode Island, is such an attempt. Yandell won this commission by competing with many leading sculptors. A Memorial to Carrie Brown Bajnatti, it was a gift to the city from her widowed husband. The subject came from the prominent Providence family after which Brown University is named.

According to Yandell, her aim in this sculpture was to portray "the attempt of the immortal soul within us to free itself from the handicaps and entanglements of its earthly environments. It is the development of character, the triumph of intellectuality and spirituality I have striven to express."

In the Memorial Fountain, Life is represented by a large, heroic woman with a muscular back (Lorado Taft referred to this figure as amazon-like), struggling to free herself from such base, earthly tendencies as duty, passion and avarice, which are represented by comparatively diminutive men. There is also an angel, the Soul, whose mantle of Truth flowing from its shoulders forms a drapery for the whole composition.

In later years, Yandell lived and taught sculpture in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard, and in 1908, she founded the Branstock School there. Her summer school taught modeling, drawing, wood carving, illustration and painting in oil and watercolor, and she convinced a number of well-known painters, to teach there, including Albert Sterner in 1909 and John Christen Johansen the following year. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, Yandell also instituted courses in handicraft and decorative design; Anna B. Leonard taught China decoration and woodblock printing, and Miss Canfield from Glens Falls, New York, taught leather tooling and metalwork.

Enid Yandell executed various memorials, including the Emma Willard Memorial in Albany, the Hogan Fountain in Louisville, the Mayer Lewis Monument in New Haven and other fountains and busts. She was one of the first women members of the National Sculpture Society, and her sculpture "The Five Senses" was in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City.

(Some of the information for the biography above is based on writings from the book, "American WomenArtists", by Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein.)