Harriet Whitney Frishmuth American, 1880-1980


Harriet W. Frishmuth is celebrated for her decorative bronzes and garden sculpture of supple, athletic young women who embody the feeling of youthful vigor and joy.  She was born into an upper-middle-class Philadelphian family in 1880.  At an early age, Frishmuth moved to Europe and remained there for many years with her mother and two older sisters, where she became a proficient piano player and contemplated a career in music.  It was not until she met an American woman sculptor in Switzerland that Frishmuth made her first attempts at modeling.  At age nineteen, Frishmuth enrolled in a modeling class in Paris where Auguste Rodin visited biweekly and singled out Frishmuth’s work on occasion.  Encouraged by her progress, Frishmuth transferred six months later to the Académie Colarossi in order to receive more regular study.


Frishmuth made her first debut in 1903 at the Salon with a portrait bust of a woman.  Soon afterwards, she moved to Germany for two years and then returned to the United States where she settled in New York and took classes at the Art Students League under sculptors such as Gutzon Borglum and Herman Atkins MacNeil.  In 1908 Frishmuth set up her own studio in New York.  The first major showing of Frishmuth’s work occurred in 1912 at Gorham Galleries on Fifth Avenue in New York City in a group exhibition with numerous other outstanding women sculptors such as Anna V. Hyatt, Gertrude V. Whitney, Carol Brooks MacNeil and Enid Yandell. 


There are signature formal elements in Frishmuth’s sculpture: raised heels, ankles and knees demurely pressed together, shoulders delicately hunched, elbows pulled into the body, and hand bent back with fingers splayed—all of these elements convey messages of coy femininity, vulnerability, and an undeniable measure of self-absorption.


Allied Artists of America

American Federation of Arts

Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club

National Academy of Design

National Arts Club

National Association of Women Artists

National Sculpture Society

Philadelphia Ten


Art Institute of Chicago

Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club

Golden Gate International exposition, 1939-1940, Honorable Mention

Grand Central Art Galleries, Prize

National Academy of Design

National Association of Women Artists

National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, Joan of Arc Silver Medal

National Sculpture Society

Panama Pacific Exhibition of 1915

Paris Salons

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Museums and Public Collections

Arkell Museum at Canajoharie

Ball State Museum of Art, Indiana

Brookgreen Gardens, Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, Californai

Canton Museum of Art, Ohio

Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina

Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio

Como Park, Zoo, and Observatory, St. Paul, Minnesota

Currier Gallery of Art, New Hampshire

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Texas

Dayton Art Institute, Ohio

Farmington Community Library, Farmington Hills, Michigan

Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa

Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, California

Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana

Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, Mississippi

Louis and Alan Sellars Collection

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Montclair Art Museum

National Academy of Design Museum & School of Fine Arts

National Museum of Wildlife Art, Wyoming

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut

Rice and Gracelawn Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana

Syracuse University Art Collection

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Pennsylvania

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