Dancer and Gazelles
Paul Manship, American, Dancer and Gazelles, 1916, Bronze; Height: 81.9 cm (32 1/4 inches), Museum Appropriation Fund 17.363
Manship studied at the American Academy in Rome from 1909 to 1912 and was inspired by Archaic Greek sculpture that he saw in Italy and Greece. Their simplicity of form and severity of line influenced his later work, contributing to an elegance of both surface and design. Dancer and Gazelles partakes of a streamlined esthetic that informed American sculpture in the early 20th century, but it also reveals Manship’s interest in the flat, decorative figural representation that he admired in Indian miniature paintings. The motif of the woman flanked by two animals is derived from a ragamala painting in which a female figure appears in a forest holding a garland or a stringed instrument, sometimes dancing, and accompanied by pairs of deer or goats. Manship transformed this combination of forms into a stylized three-dimensional composition that preserved the delicate animation of the dancing figures.