Hoffman hosted an elaborate costume party at her studio for the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova’s (1881–1931) birthday. For the event, the stage designer Boris Anisfeld created an elaborate screen, modeled on a Russian icon, whose window opened at midnight to reveal Pavlova, her eyes closed, bedecked with a jeweled headdress and appearing as a Byzantine Madonna. After remaining still, the "icon" came to life, as Pavlova opened her eyes and smiled. Memorializing the event, Mask of Anna Pavlova is modeled in tinted wax. In choosing this incarnation for her subject, rather than one that portrays more of the lyrical dancer’s body, Hoffman reveals her worshipful attitude toward Pavlova.
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Title:Mask of Anna Pavlova
Artist:Malvina Cornell Hoffman (American, New York 1885–1966 New York)
Dimensions:16 in. × 9 in. × 6 1/2 in. (40.6 × 22.9 × 16.5 cm) Weight: 15.4 lb. (7 kg)
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body," March 21–July 22, 2018, no. 19.
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.
Malvina Hoffman. Malvina Hoffman. New York, 1948, p. 63.
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.
George Dorris. "Looking at Dance History: Three Exhibitions." Dance Chronicle 2, no. 3 (1978), p. 242.
Joshua C. Taylor. "Malvina Hoffman." American Art & Antiques 2 (July/August 1979), p. 100.
Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein. American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions. Boston, 1990, p. 180, calls it "Byzantine Madonna".
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. 733, 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.
E. Adina Gordon. "Color in Sculpture: Scandal and Revival." Sculpture Review 52 (Fall 2003), p. 38, ill. p. 39, calls it "Mask of Anna Pavlova in Russian Headdress" and dates it 1932.
Brinda Kumar inLike Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. New York, 2018, pp. 103–4, 282, no. 19, ill. p. 113 (color).
Linda Kim. Race Experts: Sculpture, Anthropology, and the American Public in Malvina Hoffman's "Races of Mankind". Lincoln, Neb., 2018, pp. 10, 162, 164, 314 n. 26, fig. 6.
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