1862 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
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male portrait bust and commemorative sculpture
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San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|A native of Philadelphia, Charles Grafly has been called the "foremost
American sculptor of male portrait busts." (Reynolds, 146). It has also
been written that "Most important of all, . . .he sought to find the
true person within, which was even more elusive." (Reynolds, 178).|
also did life-size figures including ones for the Philadelphia "Smith
Monument", a tribute to Civil War soldiers. However, early in his
career, he focused on idealistic and allegorical subjects. In the
Paris Exposition of 1900, he won a Gold Medal for the Vulture of War, and for the Pan American Exposition of 1901, he did the Fountain of Men,
an allegorical depiction representing the five senses. For the
Custom's House in New York, he did a series of personification figures
of France and England, but upon completion of that project in 1905, he
switched to his signature portraiture.
Grafly was known for his
analysis of the personalities of his subjects, and he strove to convey
their true presence so that nothing interfered with the viewer's
interaction with the portrait. It is said that he sketched every
day, and he recounted to his daughter that when he and Robert Henri
went to France together, they started the day by using each other as
He spent most of his life in Philadelphia
excepting regular summer vacations to Gloucester, Massachusetts.
He began his career by apprenticing in Struther's stone monumentshop
where he carved many bits of sculpture for Philadelphia City
Hall. In 1884, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy, and
studied anatomy with Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz.
1888, Grafly went to Paris to the Julian Academy and the Ecole des
Beaux Arts. For many years, he taught at the Pennsylvania Academy
and at Drexel Institute. He was a founder of the National
Sculpture Society and became noted for his portrait busts.
Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture
Steven Law, Sculptors of Cape Ann, American Art Review, October 1997
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