Janet Scudder (American, 1869–1940)
37 1/2 x 26 x 19 in. (95.3 x 66 x 48.3 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.967)
The first in a series of ornamental garden sculptures produced by Scudder, Frog Fountain depicts a spirited boy looking down on three open-mouthed frogs. In her autobiography, the sculptor recalled the fountain's origin: "In that moment a finished work flashed before me. I saw a little boy dancing, laughing, chuckling all to himself while a spray of water dashed over him. The idea of my Frog Fountain was born." For her "water babies," Scudder acknowledged the importance of Italian Renaissance sculptureparticularly Donatello's Cantoria (143339; Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence) and Verrocchio's Boy and Dolphin (ca. 1465; Palazzo Vecchio, Florence)which she studied during a trip to Italy in the winter of 18991900. A more direct influence is the work of her mentor Frederick MacMonnies, specifically his ebullient Boy and Duck (22.61). Scudder assisted MacMonnies in his Paris studio during the 1890s, and spent most of her career in France. She modeled Frog Fountain in Paris in 1901 and brought it to New York hoping to attract commissions from wealthy Americans constructing lavish homes and gardens. After considerable persistence, she prevailed on the architect Stanford White to recommend her garden sculptures to his clients.
Scudder initially chose to limit Frog Fountain to an edition of four but produced a fifth example at the Museum's request. Additionally, numerous bronze reductions, intended as either parlor or fountain pieces, were cast in heights of 6, 12 1/4, and 18 1/2 inches.