Scudder specialized in designing fountains and other garden statuary for American estates. Here she chose the gracefully shaped form of a young girl holding seaweed, engineering the fountain so that the water would flow as if it were dripping from the wet seaweed.
Though Scudder routinely came to America to consult with clients and colleagues, her studios were located in France and Italy. It was in Florence that she developed her love of fountains.
Determined to be an artist, Scudder left Terre Haute, Indiana in her teens to study at the Academy of Art in Cincinnati. By age 20 she was one of Lorado Taft’s “white rabbits,” the female assistants who aided him in his many sculpture projects for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1894 she sought training in France, where she eventually established her home and studio. Active beyond her work as a sculptor, Scudder participated in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States, wrote an autobiography entitled Modelling My Life, and was honored by France as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. Scudder came back to the United States nearly every year to seek fountain projects from landscape architects. During the early 20th century a wide-spread American demand for garden sculpture provided Scudder with many commissions, earning her the title “Woman of the Fountains.”
In Seaweed Fountain, the informal naturalistic treatment of the child’s figure is derived from French examples. The wet braids of seaweed draped on her arm are a fitting motif for the sculpture’s role as a fountain or decorative element beside a pool.
Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss. Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana’s Historical Women Artists, Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0871951779
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