This intimate and museum worthy exhibition, THE MANSHIPS, is a rare chance to see and purchase original work by a talented family of artists: Paul Manship, Margaret Cassidy (daughter in law), and John Paul Manship (son). The show closes August 6th. Flatrocks Gallery is located at 77 Langsford Street, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
(b. 1885 St Paul, MN – d. 1966 NY, NY)
Paul Manship was an American sculptor of international status. His most famous work of art was the public art fountain he was commissioned to create for Rockefeller Center in New York City. The 18 feet high, gilt bronze statue of the treasured Greek myth, Prometheus Bringing Fire From Heaven, soars above the skating rink. It was installed in 1934 during the Great Depression and includes an inscription above the statue: “Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends.” (The artist’s model for Prometheus was a lifeguard from New Rochelle, NY, hired regularly for life classes at women’s colleges. I have not been able to track down a picture of him at work, but have tried.) Prometheus refers to the Titan granted the power of creating mankind out of mud and water. What was missing? Fire, of course, which Prometheus stole from the Gods, a selfless act for humanity that nearly had him punished for eternity (in a memorably sad, gruesome and groundhog day bit of the myth) if not for Hercules. In Manship’s ingenious composition, heaven and earth are filled with Prometheus, clutching fire coals, and the artist’s signature forms and themes in every detail. Note the forms of the water spray in this photo from 1934 and the effect of the water over the base!
photo caption: 1943 Christmas Tree, Skaters, Paul Manship Prometheus, Rockefeller Center
photo caption: Gordon Parks, 1945 with detail showing back and hair of Paul Manship Prometheus
photo caption: Carol Highsmith Rockefeller Center (Paul Manship Prometheus) ca.1980
Why am I going into such detail about the Prometheus statue?
Paul Manship lifetime bronzes from the family estate have been made available for sale during this exhibition!
This exhibit at Flatrocks includes a complete set of Manship’s famous tondo Zodiac medallion ashtrays, ca.1946 ($18,000). Manship was a cigar smoker. Ashtrays weren’t a big creative leap from medallic art. He created his first one in 1915. They were utilitarian, and sculptural objects. He did this with architectural details in his home, a Manship (rather than Midas) touch. He worked out a deal with Medallic Art Company to replicate them. People bough their favorite zodiac sign for themselves or as gifts. Even if you don’t know Manship’s motifs like the zodiac ring around Prometheus, it’s fun to linger and observe the entire set.
photo caption: Installation view of display case, an exhibition within an exhibition.
Compare the Paul Manship Aquarius from the Zodiac set with a zoomed in detail from Prometheus
A first edition of Manship’s creative and original representation of Venus Anadyomene “Venus Rising from the Sea” is also available for sale! It’s modeled in bronze and set on a marble base, measuring 7.5″ (not including base) and dates from 1924 ($42,000).
Artists and patrons through the ages couldn’t resist this Aphrodite lure. Manship’s sculpture isn’t as famous as Botticelli’s, but it should be — and not just because his kneeling modern beauty has the best wrought hair wringing out there. It’s just a fabulous sculpture.
The main commission for the new Addison Gallery building at Phillips Academy which opened in 1931 was this Manship sculpture. Unforgettable and rendered in gorgeous alabaster, the Addison Gallery’s Venus Anadyomene from 1927 is one of the world’s most optimally sited sculptures. The whole museum flows from this Venus. Now you can purchase the sculpture that inspired Addison’s architect, Charles Platt, to make such a brilliant selection. Platt also designed the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC, which is equally sublime.
Another life cast that’s for sale is this vividly detailed and lovely Perseus and Andromeda, 1965 ($39,000). There’s a rescue and great tension so effective with the mixed materials, florid and fascinating. There’s poor Andromeda sacrificed by her mother Cassiopeia to appease Poseidon and beg off a sea monster. You can pick out the anger and emotion in that sea. The bag with Medusa’s severed head was captivating, bounced just so, side quests are still to come after all. I’m fascinated by Manship’s treatment of time. Speaking of which, make sure to leave enough of it to study those glorious Manship reaching hands and gestures. Don’t forget the sword and winged sandals Hermes gave Perseus.
Another knock one’s socks off lifetime bronze that’s for sale is David, ca.1916-1921 ($72,000), mesmerizing composition and signature elegant articulation.
Manship came to Gloucester in 1915–before his first solo exhibition– and rented until the 1940s when they were able to purchase fourteen contiguous acres in Lanesville, ensuring the acquisition of two, gorgeous abandoned quarries. His daughter Pauline and her husband Ilmari Natti also bought a home in Lanesville in the 1940s. After Manship died, his son John Manship and daughter in law Margaret Cassidy continued to reside and work in the family estate. The Flatrocks Gallery location, vibe, and roster make it an ideal gallery for this exhibit and fundraiser. Proceeds will help the nationally significant Manship estate and property.
John Paul Manship (1927-2000)
Make sure to look back at John Manship’s work from the next room as well as up close. There are strong works from different series and decades primarily of the landscape and people about him, and so many greens! They range in price from $750-$10,000.
Margaret Cassidy Manship
(Cassidy died in 2012)
I was so intrigued by the 3 Cassidy works. The painting and bronze of Beryl Grimball are sold as a pair ($5000) and the portrait from life of Pope Pius XII is $7000. She also sculpted Pope John Paul II and Presidents Carter and Reagan. I hope to see more.