Born Carl Wilhelm Emil Andersson, Carl Milles apprenticed as a cabinet maker and attended technical school as a young man in Stockholm. A brief stopover in Paris in 1897, while en route to Chile to manage a school of gymnastics, turned into a seven-year residency and the start of a career in sculpture. Supporting himself as a cabinet maker, Milles studied art and worked in August Rodin’s studio, where he built his reputation as a sculptor exhibiting at the Paris Salon. Settling in Sweden in 1906, Milles began building Millesgården, his home and studio, from where he created many of his best-known public monuments. The home and grounds were donated to the Swedish people in 1936 and is now a major tourist attraction. In 1931 Milles began a 20-year residency as professor of sculpture at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. Public sculpture in America include The Hand of God outside Detroit’s Hall of Justice, The Wedding of the Waters in Saint Louis, and the Sunsinger, Falls Church VA. Milles returned to Europe in 1951 where he resided at the American Academy in Rome and visited Millesgården in the summers. It was there where he passed away in 1955.
Modeled in 1908, Carl Milles cast versions of Vingarna, which literally translates to “The Wings”, in a number of sizes including our 22.5 inch example, cast at the Herman Bergman Foundry in Stockholm. Monumental casts are situated outside the Gothenburg Art Museum, Gothenburg and the National Museum in Stockholm. Based on the Greek myth, Vingarna shows a young Ganymede, “the loveliest born of the race of mortals” according to Homer, at the moment of his abduction by Zeus who, in the guise of an eagle, will carry the young man to Mount Olympus to serve as his cupbearer. For his troubles he would be granted eternal youth and immortality and later placed in the sky as the constellation Aquarius. Vingarna is an early example of Milles’ life-long interest in the myths of Greece and Rome which included major figures such as Europa and the Bull, 1923, Orpheus, 1926, Poseidon, 1930, and Pegasus, 1949, along with various unnamed mermaids, and tritons.
Koper, Conrad, Carl Milles, Stockholm, 1913, pp. 160, 183A
Westholm, Alfred, Milles, Stockholm, 1950, pp. 21, 22, 48, 86, illustrated pl. 7 K.A.
Arvidsson, Karl Axel, Millesgården, Stockholm, 1988, no. 6, p. 54