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 John Talbott Donoghue  (1853 - 1903)

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut/Illinois      Known for: figural sculpture, bas relief, painting

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Ad Code: 3
John Donoghue
from Auction House Records.
The Young Sophocles Leading the Chorus of Victory after the Battle of Salamis
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography, submitted April 2007, is from Liam Quinlan. 

As morning broke on a Friday in the small town of Hamden, Connecticut, two hours north of New York along the Atlantic coast on the way to Boston, a macabre scene came to light. Outside of the ice houses overlooking Lake Whitney, a body lay.  The body was that of a man, distinguished looking, middle-aged, well-dressed in a suit.  Beside his hand lay a revolver and a wound behind the left temple in the silver gray of his hair left no doubt as to the cause of his death.  The police searched his pockets, found money, but no identification, save a card with a name written on it and a time.

The revolver beside the body, the wound to the head and the money in the pockets convinced the police that the man had committed suicide.  The death was entered in the Death Record of the town of Hamden—the very first entry since the new book had been gotten. It was the barest of entries: “Unknown, Hamden, 1903, July 1, Male White, of gunshot wound. Physician’s name: G. H. Joslin, Med. Ex. [for Medical Examiner] Place of Burial: “New Haven?”/ Lewis T. Maycock, Undertaker, New Haven.”

The body was brought to the morgue in New Haven—Hamden was a small town and didn't have its own.

A short item was placed in the New Haven newspaper that day, stating simply that an unknown white male, tall with iron gray hair and distinguished features, had been found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  It disclosed the contents of a card found in his pocket reading “Mr. and Mrs. Smart, Fifth Avenue Hotel, Friday 9 A. M.”  Because of its New York reference, the intriguing piece was copied by the New York City Newspapers the next day.

Robert Dimond read his newspaper that Saturday morning in his flat on West 32nd Street. Entire newspapers were once published containing tantalizing tidbits like that copied from the New Haven newspaper.  The public seemed to enjoy them, and young Robert Dimond was no exception.  One can only imagine the reaction Mr. Dimond must have had as he read of a suicide found on the shores of a lake in Connecticut, in the pocket of whose clothes had been found a card he himself had but two days before given to his friend Jack Donoghue.

With a mounting sense of dread, Mr. Dimond would have hurried the few blocks to West 38th where his friend had lodgings—2 rooms in a row-house in a working class neighborhood.  The landlady told Mr. Dimond that she had last seen Mr. Donoghue Thursday.  The two stood outside the door of his rooms, and the landlady knocked, and knocked again and called out. Finally she got her pass key and opened the door.  The faint smell of turpentine was in the air of the room he used as his studio—Mr. Donoghue had been painting in oils as of late.  A little spinet-piano stood against one wall—he’d also taken up music as of late. The room had been neatened.  All the papers had been cleared away.  On the desk were two envelopes—one bearing the name of the landlady, the other that of “D. H. Robbins.”

The landlady read the note from her quiet, gentlemanly tenant. It simply informed her that he would not return.  Mr. Dimond brought the envelope to Mr. Robbins.  The letter explained that Donoghue had given up hope and would “disappear.”  It directed Mr. Robbins how to dispose of certain of his effects. It instructed him to sell the remaining paintings and statuettes which Jack had created to pay his debts. Enclosed were two letters to other friends.

Only two days ago Jack Donoghue had carefully and methodically straightened up his rooms, destroying the accumulation of a career dedicated to the arts.  He burnt countless letters, many from some of the most illustrious people of the age, who he had counted as his friends.  He destroyed half-finished oil paintings, sketches for compositions which would never now be made.  He threw on the merrily burning fire the manuscript of his “X-Rays in Religion” a philosophical consideration of metaphysical existence which he had spent the closing years of the Victorian century writing.  No one had been interested in publishing it.

John Donoghue was in the last quarter of the last year of his fifth decade on this earth. He would have been 50 in November.

He had lived a remarkable life.  He'd studied with the greatest artists in the greatest city of art—Paris.  He'd been friends with the leading lights of two continents and several countries.  He had exhibited at the Paris Salon five times.  He had packed the Horticultural Hall in Boston with people who had come to see his daring sculpture of the most celebrated boxer on both sides of the Atlantic, a friend he had gotten to know quite well—John L. Sullivan.  He had lived in London and frequented the salons of the beau monde—playwrights, actors and actresses were his intimates.  He had sculpted a special bas-relief to grace the mantel of the showcase house of the age, the home of his friends Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Wilde on Tite Street.  He had hired the Baths of Diocletian in Rome as his studio and there created the piece which he hoped would be the center-piece of the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition in his hometown of Chicago—an audacious 30 foot statue designed to brood over the lapping waters of Lake Michigan.

John M. Donoghue was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Edward and Margaret Donoghue (née Talbott), first born son of immigrants from western Ireland.  Edward and Margaret were among that wave of people who had fled the unrelenting famine in Ireland in the middle years of the 19th century.  Edward and Margaret had trekked across Ireland to Dublin, crossed over to Liverpool (it was substantially cheaper to do so) and sailed on an 80-ton three-master called the “Sarah G. Hyde” [Left: The “Sarah G. Hyde” 1861, by Edward Everard Arnold] crammed in with 547 of their fellow countrymen to the port of New York.  Eleven of their shipmates died before the ship arrived on April 24, 1852, after a more difficult than usual 5 week crossing.  It was cheaper to go to Liverpool, and there was more opportunity beyond New York in the newly burgeoning Chicago in America’s heartland, and so Edward and Margaret went there.

The young couple was listed as both being 29 years of age in the ship’s manifest.  One wonders if the trip had been their honeymoon journey.  The age at which people married had been climbing in Ireland.  Young people were putting off marriage because of the economic instability, and it had become common to marry late and set off to America, the ending of the marriage feast being a tearful farewell.

The Donoghues were soon blessed with a son, whom they named John M.  Evidence of the frontier nature of society is shown by the fact that a system of keeping birth records had yet to be implemented by City Hall.

By the time we find the Donoghues again, it is 1870, and the Federal Census of that year reveals that Margaret and Edward have prospered greatly.  Their son John, now 16 and occupied “at school” has been joined by two brothers, 14 year-old Edward M. and six year-old Thomas, and a ten year-old sister Helen J.  They live in their own house, their father owns property valued at $10,000 and lists a “personal estate” valued at $800. His occupation is listed as “sewer builder”–an evidently lucrative business in the boomtown of Chicago. The Donoghues were well on their way to middle class respectability.

We don't know if Jack displayed his artistic gift early—it would seem likely as he was truly talented.  One wonders what his parents who had already lived through famine, mortal disease, and thousands of miles of voyaging thought of their artistic son.  It was probably through his father’s connections that he got the prosaic job of a clerk in the recorders office of the County Clerk of Chicago—many who have lived through catastrophe love nothing better than the steady return of a government job.  Fortunately for Jack, the administration changed and his father’s influence was evidently no longer valued, and he lost his post.  He must have been working at his art even as a municipal clerk, because a sculpted bust called Vestal Virgin he submitted won him a place in the school then known as the Academy of Design of Chicago. He spent two years there.

It is possible that John’s penchant for art was not approved of by his parents.  He seems to have been distant from them, and it seems they did not subsidize his education.  Some references suggest that he acquired a patron, and his sister, with whom he seems to have remained close, suggests that he had a patroness.  It is possible that his patroness was Bertha Palmer, the fabulously wealthy Chicago matron and patron of the arts.  Donoghue sculpted a bust called Head of a Boy, which a note on a photograph of it suggests it to have been modeled after Bertha Potter’s son Palmer.  The age of the boy depicted (about 2) and Donoghue’s departure for Paris in 1877 do coincide.

In Paris, Donoghue studied with the sculptor Jouffroy at the École des Beaux-Arts, exhibiting a bust, Phaedra, in the Salon of 1880.  He returned to Chicago for several years, and possibly returned to work at the Academy of Design.  The muralist Edgar Cameron did an internship for Donoghue for two summers at the Academy.

Oscar Wilde, during his visit to America in 1882, met Donoghue, and they became friends (Wilde was in Chicago in mid-February).  In subsequent speeches on the tour, Wilde cited Donoghue as an example of an ideal artist and gushed about his art as only Wilde could.  Wilde also wrote influential people on behalf of Donoghue.  Wilde sent a photograph of one of Donoghue’s sculptures to Charles Eliot Norton, the professor of the History of Art at Harvard University and influential international man of letters. ‘I send you the young Greek: a photograph of him,’ he wrote. ‘ The young sculptor’s name is John Donoghue: Pure Celt is he’: “I feel sure he could do any of your young athletes, and what an era in art that would be to have the sculptor back in the palestra, and of much service too to those who separate athletics from culture, and forget the right ideal of the beautiful and healthy body.”

The subsequent attention to Donoghue and commissions which flowed therefrom helped Donoghue to pay for another trip to Europe the following year.  He returned to Paris, and studied with Alexandre Falguière, successor to Jouffroy at the École des Beaux-Arts, a sculptor and painter like himself.  He stayed in Paris, and possibly made side trips to Rome.

In June of 1884, while Donoghue was in Paris, Oscar Wilde came to Paris on his honeymoon with his new wife, Constance Lloyd.  Donoghue saw the Wildes often in Paris, and attended a dinner party in honor of the happy couple.  Constance describes him in a letter to her brother Otho as “the young sculptor Donoghue whom I have seen several times, very handsome Roman face but with Irish blue eye.”

Donoghue was quite influenced by his friendship with Wilde—many felt negatively.  One report has him imitating Wilde’s suggestion for reform of costume, with Donoghue wearing “dark green Roman togas lined with shrimp pink. . . . And [his] hats were wonderful to behold.” [. The Collector, Feb. 1, 1894, p. 111]

At some point Donoghue settled in Rome, but continued to be invited to exhibit at the Paris Salon.  He produced a number of works: a bas-relief, Seraphim (Salon of 1884); Young Sophocles, in 1885 (Honorable Mention, Salon of 1886); and a Hunting Nymph [shown Left] in 1886.  Rome, and Italy in general, were to continue to be an inspiration for Donoghue, and he would visit there, off and on, for many years.

1887 found Donoghue back on the American side of the Atlantic, in Boston, where he embarked on a series of portrait sculptures.  He spent the summer of 1887 working on the full length statue with John L. Sullivan posing for him regularly.  In 1888 he presented a bust of the Boston Mayor Hugh O’Brien [illus.], which still stands in the main reading room of the Boston Public Library.  The library also has on display a bust of John Boyle O’Reilly by Donoghue.  He also exhibited plaster casts of three of his statues, Young Sophocles, Hunting Nymph, and The Pugilist to admiring crowds at the Horticultural Hall in Boston.  He sculpted three busts of his friend John Boyle O’Reilly, one in marble, two in Bronze.

O’Reilly was an Irish immigrant who had escaped the penal colony in Australia and come to America on a New England whaler.  He was a social reformer and newspaper editor in Boston.  Donoghue would later have the sad honor of sculpting the medallion which adorned O’Reilly’s tombstone.  He also sculpted a bas-relief of two boys, and mounted an exhibition in downtown Boston.

Donoghue stopped in New York in April 1889 before sailing again for Europe.  In an article published in Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn Eagle [Newspaper], Donoghue suggested that the mansion dwellers of Fifth Avenue do as the Venetians do and hang their oriental rugs from their windows in celebration of holidays—Donoghue found the red, white and blue crepe generally used to be insufficiently striking.

Donoghue now traveled to London, and took up residence in the Bolton Studios in South Kensington.  He lived there for two years.  He exhibited Sophocles Leading the Chorus of Victory after the Battle of Salamis, created in 1885, at the Royal Academy Exhibition.  He also displayed a bust of Mrs. Frances Ronalds, the London-based American socialite and companion of librettist and composer Arthur Sullivan.
By the end of 1891, Donoghue had settled in Rome, where he set to work on several new works for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in his native Chicago.  Donoghue sculpted a work he called both Kypros and Diana, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1892.  He rented the Baths of Diocletian to be used as his studio, and set to work on a sculpture inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost—the Spirit mentioned in Genesis 1:2 which broods over the abyss and inspires life.

Instruct me, for Thou know’st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad’st it pregnant ~ John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1: 19-22

The Spirit Brooding over the Abyss was a seated winged figure, thirty feet high—and was going to be Donoghue’s masterpiece, and his great contribution not only to the World’s Exhibition, but to his native city of Chicago.  Arrangements had been made to ship the sculpture to America aboard a U.S. Navy Ship—the U.S.S. Constellation, which had been used to transport works to the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878, and ironically enough, to bring relief supplies to Ireland in the years following the American Civil War.

The New York Times describes what happened next: “The tragic end of John Donoghue, the sculptor, recalls the gallant struggle he made in Rome to embody in a gigantic statue a cosmological idea— “The Spirit of the Abyss”—and the extraordinary adventures the colossal figure had while the sculptor was trying to get it to Chicago for the World’s Fair.  Donoghue conceived the design on so tremendous a scale that nothing would do for a studio but one of the old Roman baths.  He was from Chicago himself, and knew the love of his fellow-townsmen for everything that is big.  To those who deprecate the size of the winged brooding figure he replied with invincible optimism that Chicago would find a place for it, even if it had to stand without the grounds of the exposition.  Perhaps he was right in his belief; he claimed that a site had been granted.  But when the transport from the United States reached Italy to take away the work of American artists, Donoghue was not ready, and the ship had to sail.  Then he determined to get it over as freight by an ordinary steamer.  It was too large for the railway, and had to be sawed into sections.  At last he got it to Genoa and aboard of a steamer, but there was no one to guarantee payment for the freight.  Even then Donoghue’s pluck did not fail him.  With the lightheartedness which in the course of his career gained him so many friends, he paid that freight with promises, and returned to New York to await the coming of his statue.  But here his luck turned.  The Spirit of the Abyss was, indeed, unloaded on a dock in Brooklyn, but no one could be induced to take it out of pawn, and so it perished.” [July 8, 1903, page 5]
Other reports suggest that only half the sculpture was shipped and the other half remained on a dock in Rome.  Three works did end up being exhibited at the exhibition—Young Sophocles, Hunting Nymph, and KyprosYoung Sophocles received a First Place at the exhibition.

Donoghue settled in New York after the Columbian Exhibition.  Despite what the New York Times reporter says, he seems to have lost a lot of his pluck.  He needed work and it is said he took work designing ornamental and architectural sculpture for Architectural firms.  He continued to enter competitions, but won few commissions.  He designed many pieces for the Library of Congress which was being built at the time in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, after expressing interest and asking him to submit detailed sketches, the sculpture committee decided against Donoghue’s designs, and he only received commissions for two statues. He designed and executed statues of St. Paul and a figurative Science for the Library.

Donoghue found himself seriously in need of cash, and thus, just as he had worked for Architectural firms he now set about creating small works of art–clay figurines based on ones that had been created in antiquity.  These “Tanagra” statuettes were small clay figures partially painted.  Originally produced in ancient Greece as cult objects, they had been popularized in mid-to-late nineteenth century Paris. The steady income Donoghue hoped they would bring never developed. He also took up painting of landscapes and of human subjects.

He seems to have always been of a philosophical bent and inclined toward the hermetic sciences–his large-scale Sophocles bears the symbols of the London Freemasons on its strut support.  The April 1897 issue of Art News announced that he had authored a book, which they called X Rays with Religions.

After the turn of the 20th century, Donoghue seemed to be beaten.  He was living in New York City, in lodgings in a working class neighborhood, and only rented a studio when he had a commission to work on–a circumstance which had become all-too infrequent.  The blow upon the bruise seemed to the rejection of his plans for a proposed McKinley Memorial in Philadelphia.  Donoghue, still trying to have a monumental piece created and displayed, designed a monument of epic proportions. The judges found it too expensive and rejected it.

The Art Institute of Chicago, the St. Louis Art Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York have full-size bronze casts of Young Sophocles.  The cast belonging to the Metropolitan Museum is on permanent display on loan to the Federal Reserve, where it stands in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City—and is featured on its website: (
Around 1890, Donoghue commissioned the Barbedienne foundry of Paris to cast 44½ inch reductions (one is owned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston).  Several of these exist, and can be found at auction every now and then. In the mid-60's a foundry which had acquired the casting model of Young Sophocles offered reproductions of the statue as well.

The name John Talbott Donoghue was an invention of Donoghue the artist.  He was known as Jack Donoghue to his family, born John M. Donoghue to Edward and Margaret (Talbott) Donoghue, and known professionally as John Talbott Donoghue.

“A Vestal Virgin” (Plaster, bust, Chicago Academy of Design 1875)
“Phaedra” “Phèdre” (Plaster, bust, 1880 Paris Salon)
“Seraphim” (bronze, bas-relief, 1884 Paris Salon)
“Sophocles” (plaster, statue, 1886 Paris Salon)
Some portraits (1887 Salon)
“Hunting Nymph” (unknown, statue, 1887 Salon) [Could be “Diana” referred to elsewhere]
“Hannibal” (unknown, Statuette, 1887 Salon)
“Governor Ames” [of Massachusetts] (plaster, bust, 1888 Boston)
“Mayor O’Brien” [of Boston, Mass.] (bronze, bust, 1888 Boston Public Library)
“The Boxer”/ “The Pugilist” [Depiction of John L. Sullivan] (Plaster, Statue, 1888, Horticultural Hall, Boston) [Statue is missing]
“Two boys” (unknown, bas-relief, 1888)
“John Boyle O’Reilly” (Bronze, Bust, 18??) [At Burns Library of Boston College—seems to be a younger likeness than other busts by Donoghue]
“John Boyle O’Reilly” (White Marble, Bust, 18??) [At Burns Library of Boston College/ However, it is unsigned—though it is popularly believed to be by Donoghue]
“John Boyle O’Reilly” (Bronze, Bust, 18??) [At Boston Public Library, Fine Arts Room]
“Sophocles” (unknown, statue, Royal Academy, London, 19 May 1890)
“Mrs. Ronalds” (unknown, bust, Royal Academy, London, 19 May 1890)
“The Spirit of the Abyss” aka “The Spirit” (Marble, Statue, Rome, Italy, 1892)
“Kypros” (plaster, statue, 1892 Paris Salon) [Elsewhere it is mentioned that “Kypros” is “Diana”]
“John Boyle O’Reilly” (Bronze, Medallion bas-relief, 3’ diameter, on grave of O’Reilly, Brookline/Boston, Mass. 1892?)
“Diana” (unknown, Bust, 1894) [Newspaper account says that it was added to the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts]
“Science” (Plaster, statue, 10’6” tall, Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, June 1894)
“St. Paul” (Bronze, statue, 6’6” tall, Main Reading Room, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, June 1894)
“Sylvia” (Oil on Canvas, 1898) [“Among the more notable canvases shown for the first time [at the Lotos Club, NYC] “John Donoghue’s ‘Sylvia’ with lovely expression and rich red robe…”]
“St. Louis” (Marble, statue, Appellate Court Building, NY City, 1899)
“Pallas Athene” (Bronze, Statuette, 1899 J. D. with his archaic bronze statuette Pallas Athené…)
“Tanagra Figurines” (Plaster, Figurines, National Arts Club NYC, 1899) [“John Donoghue with …a  series of statuettes in plaster in the vein of the Tanagra figurines.”]
“McClellan” (Design of a Statue, 1902)
“McKinley” (Design of a statue, never executed)
“Venus” (unknown, sculpture) [Mentioned in Obituary]
“Egyptian Ibis” (Unknown, sculpture) [Mentioned in 2 sources]

BIBLIOGRAPHY (Includes sources for this Biography)
Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Catalogue of Exhibition of Paintings & Sculpture (1933) 215 pp.

Cameron, Edgar Spier. The Cusp of Gemini (Unpublished Autobiography: Smithsonian Archives of American Art MacBeth collection. 1944) in which Cameron tells a humorous incident which occurred while he and Donoghue were both at the Chicago Academy of Design.

McKenna, Neil. The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. (New York: Basic Books, 2005) 34 & 55. (“Pure Celt is he…”)

Hyde, H. Montgomery. Oscar Wilde: A Biography. (New York: Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 1975) 72-73 (Story of Oscar “discovering” Donoghue in a garret in Chicago) 105 (“but with Irish blue eyes”) 106 (dinner party at the Paris Hotel of the Wildes) 109 (over mantel at Tite Street in which Donoghue’s bas-relief was placed).

O’Reilly, John Boyle. Athletics and Manly Sport (Boston: Pilot Publishing Company, 1890) 76-78. (A spirited and poetic description of Donoghue’s statue).

Pearson, Hesketh. Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit. (New York: Harper, 1946) 58-59 (story of Oscar going to Donoghue’s aid in Chicago upon receipt a letter from of the starving artist).

Taft, Lorado. “Other New York Sculptors.” The History of American Sculpture. (New York: MacMillan, 1925) 431-432. (Taft groups Donoghue with other Irish-American sculptors, and talks about his tragic end.)

Tolles, Thayer. “John Donoghue,” American National Biography, Vol. 6, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) 733-734.

Periodicals (In Chronological Order)

“The Talk of New York: About the Poles, the Centennial, Music and Society—Rug and Carpet Decorations,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 21, 1889, page 19, col. 1.

“Art Notes.” New York Times. July 4, 1887, page 3. (In Boston at work on a large nude statue of Sullivan, the prize fighter.)

John Boyle O’Reilly. “Wonderful Creation: John Donoghue’s Three Great Statues Now on Exhibition at Horticultural Hall.” Boston Daily Globe. January 22, 1888, page 2.

“Art Notes,” New York Times. February 26, 1888, page 11. (Modeled for the Executive Chamber in the Boston State House a bust of Gov. Ames of Massachusetts.)

“Art Notes.” New York Times. Oct. 7, 1888, page 10. (Exhibits at a Boston art dealer’s shop a bronze bust of Mayor O’Brien, and portraits/of two boys on one bas relief.)

“Art Notes,” New York Times. May 19, 1890, page 4. (“The ‘Young Sophocles Dancing Nude in Honor of the Battle of Salamis,’ exhibited by the sculptor, John Donoghue, at the Academy of Design, is shown this year in London at the Royal Academy exhibition.”)

“Art Notes,” New York Times. June 23, 1890, page 4. (“In the Academy Mr. Claude Phillips speaks as follows of a statue which ought to have been bought for some public building in New York when it was shown at the Academy of Design some years ago” ‘about Sophocles’).

“Art Notes,” New York Times. September 21, 1890, page 13. (‘This is the statue [Sophocles] which New-York and Boston did not buy, and even Chicago, Mr. Donoghue’s birthplace, was not bright enough to secure for Opera House or Art Institute.’)

W. Lewis Fraser. “American Artist Series: John Donoghue,” The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, (New York: November 1893 – April 1894) 957-958.

“Current News of the Fine Arts,” New York Times. June 30, 1894, page 5. (Discusses commissions for the Library of Congress—mentions “Science” and “St. Paul” for Donoghue.)

“Arts and Artists,” Boston Daily Globe, September 24, 1894, p. 30. (“There are two important additions in the modern sculpture room at the museum of Fine Arts; one is a cast of John Donoghue’s statue of Diana. The goddess is depicted in her aspect as a huntress. It is a fine conception of the chaste goddess, and represents her standing in a graceful attitude, with loose drapery clinging closely about her form. She has just released an arrow from her bow, and is intently watching its flight.”)

“Current News of the Fine Arts,” New York Times. September 25, 1894, page 4. (“Casts of John Donoghue’s ‘Diana’ and of Daniel C. French’s ‘Death and the Sculptor’ have been added to the Modern Sculpture Room of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.”)

“Beautiful Works of Art: Creations by American Sculptors for the Congressional Library.” New York Times. February 23, 1896, page 22. (With line drawings of Donoghue’s “Science” and “St. Paul.”)

“American Art at the Lotos,” New York Times. Dec. 17, 1898, page 9. (“Among the more notable canvases shown for the first time, or which have been only infrequently displayed, are… John Donoghue’s “Sylvia,” with lovely expression and rich red robe…”)

 “Small Bronzes at [National] Arts Club.” New York Times. Dec. 24, 1899, page 6. (“Other exhibitors are John Donoghue, with his archaic bronze statuette of Pallas Athené and a series of statuettes in plaster in the vein of the Tanagra figurines.”)

Untitled. New York Times. March 4, 1899, BR-137, col. 3. (Appellate Court Building designs have all been submitted. “The rest of the skyline is to be broken at intervals by statues, the individual characteristics of which will count for little, their value being merely architectural. The sculptors who have the designing of these ten figures are… John Donoghue…”)

“Arts and Artists.” Boston Daily Globe, March 9, 1902, p. 39. (“Among the 29 sculptors who will submit models in competition for the McClellan monument in Washington…John Donoghue.”)

“George B. McClellan Statue: Competition Closed Yesterday and Models Will Be Exhibited in the Corcoran Art Gallery To-day.” New York Times. May 1, 1902, Page 9. (John Donoghue “of New York” gave notice of intention to compete for the $60,000 commission.)

“Well-Known Sculptor: Body Found Near New Haven Identified as that of John Donoghue.” Boston Globe. July 6, 1903. Page 2.

New Haven Evening Leader, July 2 & 6, 1903.

New York Herald, July 6, 1903.

“Sculptor Donoghue’s Body Identified.” New York Times. July 7, 1903, page 2.

“Art Notes.” New York Times. July 8, 1903, page 5. (Tells the tragic tale of “The Spirit of the Abyss.”)

Obituary, Boston Herald, July 12, 1903.

J. C. McCord “Pathos of the Career of John Donoghue, Sculptor,” Brush and Pencil, 12:5, August 1903, 5 pages.

“John Donoghue,” Sadakichi Hartmann: Critical Modernist, ed. Jane Calhoun Weaver, Berkeley University of California Press, 1991. (The article is a reprint of an article by the same name published originally in Camera Work, no. 21 (January 1908): 23-26.

Pennell, Joseph. “The Critic,” Source unknown. (Mentions the fate of Donoghue’s final major work “Spirit.”)

“John Donoghue.” Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Meredith Ward. “Adventure & Inspiration: American Artists in Other Lands,” (New York: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, April 16 to June 3, 1988, 1 page. (Reproduces “Young Sophocles.” Details about this particular casting, the provenance of the original sculpture and information about the artist’s career are included in the caption for the reproduction.)

1870 Federal Census, 18th Ward, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, July 22, 1870, page 278 (lines 36-40) & 279 (lines 1-2).

1880 Federal Census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

1900 Federal Census, New York City, June 1, 1900. Showing John T. Donoghue.

Chicago Voter Registration, 1888, Record and Index of Persons Registered and of Poll Lists of Voters, City of Chicago, Northern District of Illinois. Page 134

Records of Chicago, Illinois; New York, NY; Springfield, Mass.

The Sarah G. Hyde, April 24, 1852 Ship’s manifest.

English Census Records for 1891. Kensington, London, England


Letters from Edwin Elwell (a curator at the Met, a fellow sculptor and friend of Donoghue) to Donoghue, and also to Donoghue’s sister, Helen Wills, and to various other recipients. Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Unpublished book assembled from photographs belonging to Helen Donoghue Wills (sister of Donoghue) comprising photographs of various of his works of art, and a letter to Robert H. Allerton of the Art Institute from C. W. Fay, Radnor Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts, brother of Melusina Fay Pierce. Ryerson Library, Art Institute of Chicago.

Boston Public Library.
—2 Bronze busts, J. B. O’Reilly, and Mayor O’Brien.
—Brief item regarding the causes of the artist’s death (source unknown).

Burns Library, Boston College.
—2 busts: Bronze and White Marble both of J. B. O’Reilly;
Wonderful research sources on Irish American History.

Cook County Clerk’s Office, Chicago, Illinois.
Verification that they clerk did not keep records in 1853.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Letter from Donoghue to Isabella Stewart Gardner discussing the sale of the “Sophocles” which is now in the collection of the museum, and including a poem he wrote about what seems to be his “Diana.”

New York Department of Health.
Marriage Certificate of Helen Donoghue.

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