"One of the dancers said she held this pose for twenty-five minutes, and, honestly, I don't know how anyone could do that."—Thayer Tolles, curator
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, 1880–1980). The Vine, 1921; revised 1923; this cast 1924. Bronze. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1927 (27.66). Learn more about this object.
How does the sculpted body communicate? Hear from Met experts, leading authorities, and rising stars, each with a unique viewpoint on the language of gesture, facial expression, and pose.
Thayer Tolles: Frishmuth worked with dancers, paid them to come into her studio and dance to musical accompaniment until she found a pose that she liked. This was a sculpture that was originally intended as eleven and a quarter inches high—very small. When she enlarged it, she had to remodel it, working with the dancer.
Narrator: The sculptor wrote that: "In life size she bent backward so far that I had to model the face upside down, which wasn't easy to accomplish."
Thayer Tolles: There seems to be a lot of urban legend in terms of the circumstances of the modeling of this sculpture. And one of the dancers said she held this pose for twenty-five minutes, and, honestly, I don't know how anyone could do that, up very firmly, on high tiptoe.
This is a piece that would be very difficult to conceive in a material other than bronze. Bronze is an incredibly strong material and also, unlike marble, allowed artists to create compositions that were weighted very heavily on one side rather than the other. The suspended arcing backwards of this figure makes it very heavy on one side, and I think that she compensates for that by having the vine come forward and be suspended out of the front hand.