Enid Yandell and the Branstock School
Sculpture produced from the third quarter of the nineteenth century to World War I has been largely overshadowed by the neoclassical works which preceeded and the abstract non-objectivist works that followed. After more than a half century of relative neglect, the sculpture of this period is emerging for reappraisal. This renewed interest is evidenced by the recent exhibitions, Rodin Rediscovered, The Romantics to Rodin; French Nineteenth Century Sculpture frorn North American Collections, and The American Renaissance 1876-1917, organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Los Angeles County and Brooklyn Museums respectively.
One sculptor who merits re-evaluation is Enid Yandell, (1870-1934) whose bronze Kiss Tankard*, owned by the Museum of Art, Rhode Isl and School of Design, was included in the American Renaissance show. Analysis of her work provides an instructive case study of one artist's interrretation of the conflicting stylistic tenets of the times. Her struggle for self-definition provides added insight into the dilemmas facing an increasingly large number of women who worked as professional sculptors during the pre-Worl d War I period. The stylistic quality of her work, the peer group recognition, the public acclaim given it during her lifetime, and her productivity all indicate that Enid was an important sculptor of the period.
The major trends in American sculpture of this period reflect the influence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Academie Julian and other Parisian art schools on traditional neo-classicism, as Paris superceded Rome as the main artistic center. This highly productive period is characterized by an interest in the personification of
national virtues through revival styles, as shown in the work of Daniel Chester French; a revitalized naturalism, especially evident in the portraiture and low reliefs of J. Q. A. Ward and Augustus St. Gaudens; the decorative element in style and subject matter, as found in the work of Frederick MacMonnies, Philip Martiny and Karl
Bitter; and the more spiritual representations of Auguste Rodin, and in America by George Gray Bernard and Olin Warner. Residual elements of classical, naturalistic, romantic, allegorical, symbolical and Art Nouveau styles compete throughout. At first, the sculpture of this period was primarily public, designed for parks, squares, memorials, and important international expositions. Later, it was adapted for the very rich, as embellishments for their homes and gardens. Enid Yandell's career traces this evolution, too.
The upheaval of World War I touched Enid so deeply, as it did many of her contemporaries, that she virtually stopped sculpting. She became involved in the French organization for the care of war orphans, "La Societe des Orphelins de la Guerre," and the Red Cross. Enid was also active in the administration of "Appui Aux Artists" in Paris which provided inexpensive meals for workers in the arts and their families deprived of work by the war. Other active participants included Rodin, MacMonnies and Antonin Mercie. As she described the situation: "After the war there was no art. THere was nothing but agony and sorrow and a great striving to help." At the end of the war, Enid returned to the United States and worked for the Red Cross. The social work totally consumed her time and efforts. Enid's lack of attention to her career continued through the 1920s. By 1925 she apparently had ceased most sculpting. Early in 1934 her health began to fail; six months later she died at age 60.