John La Farge, 1908
Edith Woodman Burroughs (American, 1871–1916)
Bronze; 16 1/4 x 18 3/4 x 9 in. (41.3 x 47.6 x 22.9 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1910 (10.199)
John La Farge (1835–1910) was a major figure in late nineteenth-century American artistic and cultural life, known for his paintings, watercolors, murals, and above all, for his innovative stained-glass work. Here, Burroughs unapologetically renders her sitter's aging features: La Farge, who was about seventy-three years old at the time, appears in a melancholy pose with his left hand pensively raised to his cheek. A contemporary writer observed that the striking portrait revealed the artist's "introspective withdrawal from fellowship and the intensity of his consciousness to a degree quite uncanny." The vigor of the bust rests in the assured surface modeling, in which the bronze retains the immediacy of the original clay, and in the sharp horizontal termination of the chest. Burroughs lent this unique bronze cast to the Metropolitan Museum on November 17, 1910, just three days after La Farge's death; it was purchased for the collection shortly thereafter.