Panther and Cubs, ca. 1878; this cast, 1907
Edward Kemeys (American, 18431907)
Bronze; 27 x 58 1/2 x 44 1/4 in. (68.6 x 148.6 x 112.4 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.81)
Kemeys was the first American animalier (animal sculptor) of significance, frequently traveling west to study fauna of the mountains and plains between the 1870s and 1890s. His output was prodigious, in part because he felt a sense of urgency to record the anatomical and behavioral characteristics of North American wildlife on the vanishing western frontier. Kemeys employed a broad, impressionistic handling of form in which the interpretation of animal mood was paramount. The American panther was a favorite subject and he modeled the animal in emotional states from tenderness to combativeness. Panther and Cubs (also known as American Panther and Her Cubs) presents a universal moment of maternal instinct in which a mother displays affection for her young. The surface treatment of Panther and Cubs is in keeping with the sculptor's concern first for psychological expression and second for anatomical correctness. The texture of the cats' coats is rendered in broad hatch marks, while the loose, picturesque handling of the mother's chest and hindquarters implies areas where the fur is longer.