Malvina Cornell Hoffman (American, New York 1885–1966 New York)
16 x 9 x 7 in. (40.6 x 22.9 x 17.8 cm)
Gift of Mrs. L. Dean Holden, 1935
Not on view
This portrait of the Russian-born ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), made from a life mask, creates the sense of a living, breathing woman, an impression intensified by the colored features. The lowered eyes and closed mouth, however, hint at death—of the transcendence of this mortal life. One writer on Hoffman's work suggested that this image portrays Pavlova as a saint. The idea is supported by Pavlova's appearance as a living icon at a lavish birthday party given for her by Hoffman, where the dancer was photographed under a gilded icon frame, wearing a decorative headdress similar to the one seen in the Museum's mask. Hoffman tinted the wax to give to the face a lifelike skin tone and colored the headdress and necklace the red, blue, and gold-green hues of a gold crown and gemlike stones. These were probably once bright but are now faded.
Mrs. L. Dean Holden (by 1930–35; on extended loan 1930–35 to MMA; her gift to MMA)
Vincent Astor Gallery, Library & Museum of the Performing Arts, the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center. "Dance in Sculpture," February 1–April 30, 1971, unnumbered cat. (section V; as "Anna Pavlova [Head]").
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "200 Years of American Sculpture," March 16–September 26, 1976, no. 100.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Diaghilev: Costumes and Designs of the Ballets Russes," November 24, 1978–June 30, 1979, unnum. brochure.
Yonkers, N. Y. Hudson River Museum. "A Dancer in Relief: Works by Malvina Hoffman," March 25–May 13, 1984, unnumbered cat.
Pauline Carrington Bouvé. "The Two Foremost Women Sculptors in America: Anna Vaughn Hyatt and Malvina Hoffman." Art and Archaeology 26 (September 1928), p. 80, ill. p. 81 (unknown edition), calls it "Mask 'Anna Pavlowa'".
J[ohn]. G[oldsmith]. P[hillips]. "Notes: A Portrait in Wax." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (January 1936), p. 15.
Malvina Hoffman. Heads and Tales. New York, 1936, ill. p. 66.
Albert TenEyck Gardner. American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1965, p. 159, ill.
Daniel Robbins in200 Years of American Sculpture. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, 1976, pp. 137, 341, no. 100, fig. 186.
Joshua C. Taylor. "Malvina Hoffman." American Art & Antiques 2 (July/August 1979), p. 100.
Joan M. Marter inAmerican 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. 740–41, no. 370, ill. (color).
Janis Conner. "The Ethereal Icon: Malvina Hoffman's Worshipful Imagery of Anna Pavlova." Perspectives on American Sculpture before 1925. Ed. Thayer Tolles. New York, 2003, pp. 130, 146, 148, fig. 117.