Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain
Frog Fountain

Frog Fountain

Janet Scudder (American, 1869-1940)
Roman Bronze Works, Foundry (American)

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  • Functioning as spouts, a trio of open-mouthed frogs splash water against a playful young boy. A quest for dynamism guided Scudder in the selection of children as her models. This bronze marked the beginning of a series of ornamental garden sculptures.
  • In a 1912 New York Times article Scudder expressed her preference for bronze over marble in the creation of her sculptures, particularly in fountains, observing that “it took such wonderful colors under the water.”
  • The famed New York architect Stanford White’s acquisition of the first Frog Fountain led to a highly profitable working relationship. A fortuitous encounter with White at a Manhattan intersection led to the sale that became “the dominating factor in [her] life.”

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.”

As a young artist in France, Scudder persuaded the successful American sculptor Frederick MacMonnies to break his rule against taking students. Scudder incorporated MacMonnies lively naturalistic modeling into Frog Fountain. She said that this bronze was inspired by children she observed in Italy, a country renowned for its fountain sculpture. The chubby little boy, his hair garlanded with flowers, dances between three nervous frogs. Frog Fountain is Scudder’s best known work, and this bronze is one of many replicas.


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

purchased (from the artist?) by the Women's Department Club in 1928; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1984.

Object Information

Janet Scudder (American, 1869-1940)
Roman Bronze Works (American)
creation date
modeled 1901, cast by 1928
29 x 20 x 16 in.
mark descriptions
Signed, front side, near bottom of base: JANET SCUDDER
Inscribed, back side, near bottom of base: ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N-Y-
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Woman's Department Club
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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