Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Turning Turtle

Albert Laessle (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1877–1954 Miami, Florida)
1905; cast 1917
7 3/4 in. x 9 5/8 in. x 7 in. 19 (19.7 cm x 24.4 cm x 17.8 cm) Base: 1 1/8 x 11 x 9 in. (2.9 x 27.9 x 22.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774
Laessle’s Turning Turtle was the result of his long interest in the turtle as a sculptural subject, which began while he was an art student in Philadelphia. Later, in Paris, he borrowed a turtle and made careful studies. This resulting statuette depicts a turtle struggling to right itself, balanced by its head, one front leg, and one back leg. When it was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1907, apparently the jurors refused to believe that the turtle was modeled, rather than cast from life, so convincingly lifelike was the sculpture.
Inscription: Signed and dated (top and front of base) : Albert-LAESSLE/ PARIS/ 1905

Marking: Foundry mark (back of base): ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N–Y– ì
the artist, Philadelphia (1917; sold to MMA)

New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "200 Years of American Sculpture," March 16–September 26, 1976, no. 131.

D. Roy Miller. "A Sculptor of Animal Life." International Studio 80 (October 1924), pp. 25–26, ill., quotes the artist's erroneous statement that the MMA cast was exhibited at the 1907 Paris Salon.

Albert TenEyck Gardner. American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1965, p. 131.

Janis Conner and Joel Rosenkranz. Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893–1939. Austin, 1989, pp. 105, 108, 122 n. 26, ill. p. 106.

Joan M. Marter in American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Thayer Tolles. Vol. 2, A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born between 1865 and 1885. New York and New Haven, 2001, pp. 616–17, no. 283, ill. (color).

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