Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895) was one of the most influential and prominent American architects of the 19th century, “Gilded Age”. His work was extensive and included many well-known New York City buildings such as the facade and Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, and many Fifth Avenue grand mansions for the elite, affluent American families of the era, such as the Vanderbilts and Astors. Outside of New York City, Hunt’s opulent work can be found in Newport, Rhode Island, “The Breakers”, and the “The Biltmore Estate” in North Carolina.
After Hunt’s death, Daniel Chester French (American, 1850–1931) was soon commissioned to create a monument to the great Beaux-Arts architect and teacher. Unveiled in 1898 and located on the East Side wall at Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street across from the Frick Museum, French featured three bronzes: two female figures at each end, representing allegorical statues of Architecture, Painting, and Sculpture, and a bust of Hunt in the center. Equal in national prominence to Hunt as a sculptor, Daniel Chester French was very well regarded with numerous public sculptural monuments to his credit, such as his most known contribution, Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Prior to the actual finished sculptures flanking the center bust (which stand at close to nine feet in height), French made two sets of maquettes (or small scale sculptural models) that were made and eventually gifted to the descendants of Richard Morris Hunt. One of these sets was recently acquired for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/19414). Clars is very pleased to be offering the only other known set of these Allegorical bronze maquettes, estimated at $40,000-60,000, in their Important May 31st Auction.