Born in Albany, McCartan studied at the Pratt Institute with Herbert Adams and at the Art Students League of New York with George Grey Barnard and Hermon Atkins MacNeil. He traveled to Paris and worked under the tutelage of Jean Antoine Injalbert, then returned to the United States in 1910. Four years thereafter he was named the Director of the sculpture department at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City. McCartan is best known for his highly stylized and very refined female forms, which are often accompanied by a hound or faun. His work is demarcated by its qualities of strength and elegance; McCartan worked in an Art Deco vein but was not considered a Modernist and as such he worked mostly within the circle of the National Sculpture Society.
Diana Torso is emblematic of the work for which Edward McCartan is best known. Its elegant style and graceful patina are in line with the subject matter it represents; a study in the idealized female figure, it traces its thematic roots back to Classical Antiquity while its rendering marks it as an early twentieth-century piece, crafted in the fashion of the time. He did a number of depictions of Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt, who is often represented with hounds by her side. In that sense, this torso presents an element of animalism in its iteration of the female ideal.
Private Collection, New York