Enid Bland Yandell
(1869 - 1934)
Enid Bland Yandell was active/lived in New York, Massachusetts. Enid Yandell is known for large-scale classical figure sculpture, some watercolor painting.
One of the most striking qualities of the sculpture of Enid Yandell is its impressive physical range in sizes. Her statue of Athena (since destroyed), which once stood in front of a reproduction of the Parthenon at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Nashville, was twenty-five feet high at that time the largest figure ever designed by a woman. Yet, she also designed a little silver tankard for the Tiffany Company, on which a fisher boy kisses a mermaid whenever the lid is lifted, and leans toward her over the edge as long as it is closed.
A leading sculptor in New York at the turn of the century, Yandell was born in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduation from the Cincinnati Art Academy, she left the Midwest to study in New York with the French sculptor Philip Martiny, and in Paris with Auguste Rodin and Frederick MacMonnies.
In 1893, she helped Lorado Taft and also did a great deal of independent work for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, including a statue of Daniel Boone (now standing in Louisville, Kentucky) and the caryatids for the Womans Building. She won a Designers Medal at the Exposition.
Her works, both large and small, seem to attempt, like so much art of her period, to embody literary and sometimes rather ponderously philosophical ideas. The Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain (1901) in Providence, Rhode Island, is such an attempt. Yandell won this commission by competing with many leading sculptors. A memorial to Carrie Brown Bajnatti, it was a gift to the city from her widowed husband. The subject came from the prominent Providence family after which Brown University is named.
According to Yandell, her aim in this sculpture was to portray "the attempt of the immortal soul within us to free itself from the handicaps and entanglements of its earthly environments. It is the development of character, the triumph of intellectuality and spirituality I have striven to express."
In the Memorial Fountain, Life is represented by a large, heroic woman with a muscular back (Lorado Taft referred to this figure as "amazon"-like), struggling to free herself from such base, earthly tendencies as duty, passion, and avarice, which are represented by comparatively diminutive men. There is also an angel, the Soul, whose mantle of Truth flowing from its shoulders forms a drapery for the whole composition.
In later years, Yandell lived and taught sculpture in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard, and in 1908, she founded the Branstock School there. Her summer school taught modeling, drawing, wood carving, illustration, and painting in oil and watercolor, and she convinced a number of well-known painters to teach there, including Albert Sterner in 1909 and John Christen Johansen the following year. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, Yandell also instituted courses in handicraft and decorative design; Anna B. Leonard taught china decoration and woodblock printing, and a Miss Canfield from Glens Falls, New York, taught leather tooling and metalwork.
Enid Yandell executed various memorials, including the Emma Willard Memorial in Albany, the Hogan Fountain in Louisville, the Mayer Lewis Monument in New Haven, and other fountains and busts. She was one of the first women members of the National Sculpture Society, and her sculpture The Five Senses was in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City.
American Women Artists by Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein
Addendum from Holly Watters, Collection Assistnat of The Johnson Collecion:
"In doing a little research on Enid Bland Yandell, it seems her birth year varies from source to source.
Find-A-Grave lists birth date as Oct. 6, 1869, as does her passport application.
A Filson Historical Society blog article https://web.archive.org/web/20070928024405/http:/www.filsonhistorical.org/news_v3n1_yandell.html states that her birth year is disputed, but because of passport date, they choose to use 1969.
Enid Bland Yandell
b. 1869, Louisville, KY; d. 1934, Boston, MA
Within the field of American sculpture, barriers have inhibited women’s participation and achievement in the field. The very act of shaping durable substance into aesthetic form is a physically demanding practice—one that had, since antiquity, been reserved as the purview of muscular male artisans. This was especially true in the American South, where notions of feminine propriety persisted in the antebellum period and the first half of the twentieth century.
Growing up in genteel circumstances in Louisville, Enid began dabbling in mud as early as age three and took to carving by age twelve. She attended Hampton College locally before enrolling at the Cincinnati Art Academy for further study in 1887, an initiative encouraged by her mother, an amateur artist. Following her graduation and a tour of Europe, Yandell accepted a position in 1891 with the Columbian Exposition. Held in Chicago in 1893, the world’s fair showcased international achievements in arts, science, and industry.
During her two-year stay in the Windy City, Yandell labored alongside other female sculptors—who came to be known as the “White Rabbits”—to enlarge statuary designed by male contemporaries, such as Lorado Taft. Independent commissions came to the artist as well. Louisville’s historical society, the Filson Club, engaged Yandell to execute a sculpture of Daniel Boone for the Kentucky State Building at the exposition.
Glowing accolades in the Louisville Commercial praised “the genius of a young Kentucky girl” for her depiction of the pioneer. A few years later, a Southern landmark exhibition provided Yandell with a major opportunity to advance her reputation. From her studio in Paris—where she studied with Frederick MacMonnies and sought advice from Auguste Rodin—she executed her monumental Pallas Athena, which, after being shipped in pieces across the Atlantic, was positioned outside the Fine Arts Building at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition in Nashville. Standing over forty feet tall, Yandell’s classical figure proved to be one of the fair’s leading attractions, garnering extensive news coverage and earning a silver medal.
Yandell pursued advanced training and commissions in both New York and Paris, developing a robust trans-Atlantic practice that crossed many media and was unrestricted in size and subject. In 1913, Yandell was represented in the watershed Armory Show by an allegorical bronze vase entitled The Five Senses, a sculpture which attested to her aesthetic flexibility and bore witness to modern abstract sensibilities.
Yandell’s command of classical subject matter can also be seen in her portrayal of the Greek mythological character Ariadne. Here, the recumbent female figure, shown from the back as if hiding from the viewer, retains realism and physicality, but lacks the individuality that imbued many of the artist’s earlier works. While sculptural depictions often expose the prostrated Ariadne’s face and body, Yandell’s does not, a creative choice that may signal her debt to Rodin, whose approach emphasized expressive emotion.
Whether creating enormous public sculptures or interpreting mythological narratives, Yandell challenged the gender norms of early twentieth century sculptural practice. Her achievements, while significant, were “hard won” and the collective progress modest, a reality she openly acknowledged during both the height of her career and later, when her record became obscure. Nevertheless, Yandell saw promise for future generations of women sculptors, remarking in 1924: “Yes, I think it is a lovely occupation for women, if they have love for form. It requires much study and is wonderful for developing the mentality. It requires a great deal of physical strength and, of course, one must have talent before entering the field. The field is not overcrowded for art is still much unappreciated in this country, but every year I see it advance.”
The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina