Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - Puck

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Image of Puck

Harriet Goodhue Hosmer , (October 9, 1830–February 21, 1908)


31 in. (78.74 cm)

Medium and Support: Marble
Credit Line: Purchased as the gift of Thomas C. Foley (PA 1971) and Leslie A. Fahrenkopf, Widgeon Point Foundation and James B. Murphy II (PA 1969)
Accession Number: 2008.120


Raised in Massachusetts and schooled in a progressive school, Harriet Hosmer defied the Victorian expectation for women, forgoing marriage and domesticity to forge a career as an sculptor. In 1852 she moved to Rome to study with English sculptor John Gibson. In Italy she was part of a group of American women sculptors who found artistic companionship, comfortable working situations, easy access to stone and craftsmen, and plentiful examples of classical statuary. By 1860 Hosmer had become one of America’s most important sculptors.

While her primary subjects were historical and literary and meant to instruct and inspire the viewer, her sculpture of Puck, a mischievous fairy made famous in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, was a playful work designed to amuse. Its witty subject matter, modest size, and affordable price made it so widely popular that over thirty versions were produced. It remains Hosmer’s most well-known work.

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