Marjorie Daingerfield

M_DaingerfieldMarjorie Jay Daingerfield (1900-1977) learned about art from her father, Elliot Daingerfield, a well known painter and illustrator. He cast one of the clay figures she modeled in bronze when she was only twelve years old and continued to support her sculpting career until his death in 1932. As a student of Solon Borglum’s School of American Sculpture and the Grand Central School of Art, and traveler throughout Europe among prominent artistic circles, Daingerfield’s life was filled with art.

By 1930, the art world had recognized Daingerfield’s extraordinary talent for modeling portrait busts, heads, and small figures. She received many commissions from society leaders, businessmen, educators, and actors, although her more well-known pieces were representations of stage and opera performers. A bronze figure of the innovative dancer and choreographer Martha Graham won the Ann Hyatt Huntington Award of the Pen and Brush Club in 1956. Daingerfield was also the designer of the bronze statuette for the National Girl Scout emblem.

Daingerfield was noted for her passion for art and lively personality. During a trip to the Southwest in 1953, she convinced Hosteen Wanika, a Navajo Indian from Blue Canyon, Arizona, to sit for his portrait despite its violations of Navajo cultural beliefs. Lacking the proper tools, Daingerfield modeled the sculpture using clay dug from a nearby riverbed and chiseled it with a nail file and hairpins. Another anecdote involves Daingerfield inviting a streetwalker who approached her for money up to her studio to earn money as a model.

Daingerfield divided her time between New York and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where her father had built a home and studio in the scenic Appalachian Mountains. Also an excellent teacher and gifted lecturer, Daingerfield taught at the School of American Sculpture and the Grand Central School of Art and lectured at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, at Duke University, and the North Carolina Art Association. She also contributed to journals and wrote the book Fun and Fundamentals of Sculpture (Scribner, 1963).

pictured: bust of a young girl, marble, lifesize, 1933.

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11 responses to “Marjorie Daingerfield

  1. joseph daingerfield dulaney

    Delighted to see this article & I’d like to know more about where it appeared. etc. Marjorie was my aunt, mother’s sister, and was a wonderful influence in my brother’s life
    and mine. Concerning the Navajo indian, local clay was
    dug up for her use when she did the original sculpture. It contained uranium which sent the instruments crazy when shipped back east & led to a significant uranium find some funds from which benefited the indians.

    I would be glad to give you more information about her &
    look forward to hearing from you.

    • Greetings Joe,
      Thank you for your message and for the wonderful story about you aunt’s work in New Mexican clay. The image I posted was taken from an online auction site: liveauctioneers.com/catalog/498. It describes the piece as a marble bust, signed on the base: “Marjorie Daingerfield, 1933”. I believe the auction is still open; there are quite a few bids.
      It is not often that I see her work for sale, at least online. I would be very interested to know more about her, and if there is a collection of her work available for study.
      Thank you again for your message, and readership!

    • Do you know anything about the sculpture you aunt made for the girl scouts?
      1953 girl scout -could be bronze. Do you know what this sculpture represents?

  2. joseph daingerfield dulaney

    I do not recognize the sculpture pictured at the top of the
    page & would also like to know more about it. Certainly, she did a lot of work I never saw so I would appreciate information about her life & work.

  3. Joe E. Gutierrez

    I recently found one of the bronze statuettes for the National Girl Scouts. I fell in love with the piece. I’ve never heard of Marjorie Daingerfield. Is she alive and well? What is the value of the bronze? However, I don’t want to sell it, I just want to know its value.
    Thank you,
    Joe

    • Sorry to not answer sooner- The Girl Scout piece was the result of a national competition sponsored by The Girl Scouts of America for a sculpture of the ideal Girl Scout.
      Marjorie Daingerfield’s entry won the competition and the Girl Scouts had it reproduced and placed in their offices around the country. It was quite an honor for Marjorie
      and one of several sculpture awards she won. There is
      a very nice biography of her in vol. II of the catalogue of
      Brookgreen Gardens, a large & beautiful sculpture
      garden located in Murrells Inlet, S. C. 29576. It seems that prices today are determined at auction and I would think the price would be between $1000 & $2000 as so many copies of that piece were made. It is certainly a lovely and graceful piece. She was a talented, delightful,
      and very entertaining person who was a blessing in our lives. She died in 1977 and was my aunt, my Mother’s
      sister. She was the oldest child of Elliott Daingerfield,
      a well known artist, teacher & lecturer.

  4. My grandfather Christopher C. Winkler was caretaker of the Dangerfield estate in Blowing Rock in the early 1900:s. My mother Helen Winkler was, on occasion, a model for Marjorie. Mom was young, between the age of 3 to 8 years. My mother talked a lot about having to sit so long for Marjorie.to do a sculptor of her. I sure would like to see something she did of my mother. Is there any information on the sculptor pictured above?

    • Submitted on 2012/02/25 at 12:25 am
      My name is Melissa and I work at Wetsglow, the 3rd and final home of Elliot Daingerfield in Blowing Rock. The above sculpture resides in our Blue Ridge Parlor and I am glad to get all of this information on the piece. @Linda Schreiber, I believe the painting we have above our fireplace is of your mother. We know it is of a servant’s daughter and we know that Marjorie painted it. It is of a young girl with fairly short hair. Perhaps we will finally know exactly who the subject is!

      Hi Linda–Carolyn here. Just got this comment. It appears your mother posed for a painting! Perhaps you can fill in more details if you take a look at this piece.

  5. My name is Melissa and I work at Wetsglow, the 3rd and final home of Elliot Daingerfield in Blowing Rock. The above sculpture resides in our Blue Ridge Parlor and I am glad to get all of this information on the piece. @Linda Schreiber, I believe the painting we have above our fireplace is of your mother. We know it is of a servant’s daughter and we know that Marjorie painted it. It is of a young girl with fairly short hair. Perhaps we will finally know exactly who the subject is!

  6. It is an honor to have one of Marjories Girl Scout sculptures. I received it in May of l955 for saving the life of a small boy from drowning. Today it means more to me than in 1955, not only as a memory of childhood but a beautiful piece of art.

  7. Does anyone know or have information about Marjorie’s husband J. Louis Lundean? I have a small collection of his artwork, mostly western scene sketches, and I know that for about a year they (he and marjorie) rented a room at my grandparents home in New York City. My father and his two sisters were teenagers then so it would have been around the years 1938-1942.

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