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Greyhounds Playing, 1936

Artist: Anna Hyatt Huntington, American, 1876-1973

Medium: Bronze

Object: 38 x 41 1/4 x 15 1/2 in. (96.5 x 104.8 x 39.4 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Artist

Object Number: 38.3

Copyright: © Estate of the artist

On View

Anna Hyatt Huntingon, Haverstraw, New York, 1938

Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Anna Hyatt Huntington was the daughter of a prominent zoologist. She developed a lifelong interest in animals, becoming an expert in animal anatomy and behavior. At the age of nineteen, when she turned to sculpture, she chose animals as her subject matter. She studied briefly with Henry K. Kitson in Boston and at the Art Students League in New York, yet her training was mostly self-directed as she learned to sculpt by modeling from live subjects. Huntington’s artistic vision did not reflect that of 20th-century Modernism, which often favored abstraction over representation, and the expression of ideas, fantasies, and dreams rather than the depiction of the everyday world. Preferring an academic and realistic approach to subjects, Huntington emphasized the faithful rendering of her models and excellent craftsmanship in her work. She became one of America’s greatest sculptors of animals and her output was enormous.

 

Huntington was the recipient of many honors and awards during her career, including, in 1937, the Widener Gold Medal at the Pennsylvania Academy for Greyhounds Playing. In this lifelike portrayal, the artist demonstrates her mastery of animal form, behavior, and nature. The dogs are vibrantly alive as they face one another, gracefully twisting and turning on their hind legs with their backs arched and their muscles taut. The curving, elegant lines of their poses are reminiscent of the flowing lines of the Art Nouveau style. Huntington achieves unity in each angle of the composition–created to be viewed from all sides–through the interplay of positive and negative space. Fusing naturalistic skill with instinctive sympathy for the dogs, she captures not only an anatomically detailed portrait, but also the dogs’ inherent grace, beauty, and playfulness.