Davida Johnson Clark, the model whose classically beautiful features pervaded Augustus St. Gaudens’ visualizations of Diana, Victory, and Amor Caritas, is one of the most highly visible faces in neoclassical art. Yet the woman herself—St. Gaudens’ longtime mistress and mother of one of his sons—has almost disappeared from history.
A Swedish immigrant whose name was originally Albertina Hulgren, Davida was re-christened by St. Gaudens after Michelangelo’s David. Her great-granddaughter wrote a fictionalized biography of her in 2016.
This tiny bronze sculpture (c. 1000 BC) depicts Isis nursing her infant son Horus. An iconic image in ancient Egypt, the pose alone reminded contemporary viewers of the goddess and her many legends, including the maternal devotion she exhibited in raising falcon-headed Horus, god of war. The main cycle of Egyptian myths involves the slaying of her husband Osiris, and his resurrection by Isis and her sister Nepthys: Isis was thereafter the protector of souls as they made their way through the underworld. Isis wears on her head the sign for “throne” and is often shown nursing Pharaohs as she nursed Horus. She is not only a pre-eminent deity of the Egyptian pantheon, but her worship spread to the Greco-Roman world as well. Only the rise of Christianity eventually quashed Isis. This tiny and beautifully detailed bronze is at the mfa.org #GoddessID
Kiki Smith‘s Lilith is a lifesize bronze woman mounted on the wall, upside down or right side up (depending on the curator), her gravity-defying pose and white inlaid eyes signifying demonic or supernatural abilities. Associated with Inanna, or Ishtar, the Mother Goddess, Lilith in Jewish mythology may have been Adam’s first wife, although this designation is disputed. In Hebrew-language texts, the term lilith or lilit is translated as “night creatures”, “night monster”, “night hag”, or “screech owl.” Lilith is one of an ancient class of demons…perhaps once rulers or goddesses of the night. #GoddessID
Lilith in the Metropolitan Museum, NY
Gillian Wearing’s statue of Suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in London’s Parliament Square. Read more at Hyperallergic.
Gillian Wearing’s statue of Millicent Fawcett, Parliament Square London (photo by Caroline Teo, courtesy Greater London Authority)
Have been really enjoying Deborah Lee’s blog, Art Outdoors. I’m planning some outings based on her visits to Massachusetts sculpture parks and sites, especially the Boston women sculptors she documents on her tour of the Public Art Walk. I’m late posting for International Women’s Day, but here goes!
Women Artists Represented on Public Art Walk Boston