In the Greek myth, the gods transformed Philomela into a swallow and her sister Procne into a nightingale. Gregory, however, conformed to later interpretations of the myth and depicted the partially draped Philomela becoming a nightingale, growing highly decorative wings. The crouching figure, posed with remarkable torsion, is rhythmic and stylized, recalling the archaic Greek works admired by Gregory, Paul Manship, and other early-twentieth-century sculptors. The symmetry and frontality of this sculpture may be explained by the installation of the original lifesize Philomela against a garden wall at the estate of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, in Westbury, Long Island.
Marking: Foundry mark (right side of base): ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N–Y–
[Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, until 1923; sold to MMA]
New York. Grand Central Art Galleries. "Initial Exhibition of the Works of Artist Members," opened March 21, 1923, no. 175.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Bronze Casting," June 11–November 3, 1991, not in brochure.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Subjects and Symbols in American Sculpture: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 11–August 20, 2000, no catalogue.
New York. National Academy of Design. "Side by Side: American Sculpture from the Collections of the National Academy of Design and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–April 20, 2003, no. 3c.
Albany. New York State Museum. "Cast Images: American Bronze Sculpture from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 20, 2007–February 24, 2008, not in brochure.
Albert TenEyck Gardner. American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1965, p. 139.
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, p. 636, no. 291, ill. p. 635.