- Place where the work was made
- circa 1856
- Media category
- Materials used
- 86.3 cm height
- Signature & date
Signed back of base, "HARRIET HOSMER...". Not dated.
- Bequest of Judge Josephson 1892
- Grand Courts
- Accession number
- Artist information
Works in the collection
Neoclassicism produced a significant number of women sculptors, many of whom were American by birth. Among them, Harriet Hosmer enjoyed perhaps the greatest celebrity, entertaining dignitaries and connoisseurs in her Roman atelier with the practical aplomb of a 'grand master'.
Hosmer was a pupil of (and is displayed with a work by) the Welsh sculptor John Gibson, himself a pupil of the grandest of all neoclassical sculptors, Antonio Canova. Her work was widely collected, often on the basis of an interest in her gender as much as her considerable professional merits. She adapted continental neoclassicism to a personal vision steeped into the classical philosophies of a democratic nation.
Capable of producing work on a large scale and to specific order, she was especially proficient in the execution of public monuments. Her smaller works such as this 'Puck on a toadstool' (also known simply as 'Puck') were frequently issued in multiples to accommodate demand - and to bring in much needed funds when her father could no longer support her practice.
Hosmer has here brought to life the mischievous sprite from Shakespeare’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'. 'Puck' was a huge commercial success and Hosmer subsequently spoke of the figure as her 'son', not least given he brought the artist 'his weight in silver'.
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Grand Courts Collection Rehang, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Nov 2021–2025
Referenced in 6 publications
N Cikovsky, The White marmorean flock: nineteenth century American women neoclassical sculptors, New York, 1972. no. 5, says 1856
Samuel Carter Hall (Editor), The Art Journal, London, 1875. says in or about 1855
Samuel Carter Hall (Editor), The Art Journal, London, 1866, 177.
Susan van Rensselaer, Antiques, 1963, 425-6. says 1855
Loredo Taft, History of American Sculpture, 1903, 205.
Margaret Wendell LaBarre, Harriet Hosmer: her era and her art, 1961-1966.