This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on February 17, 1952
Lion Cast By Torch Light, Sculptor Recalls
BY BETTY S. DIETZ
One of the few sculptures missing from the recently completed, lavishly illustrated and comprehensive study of Anna Hyatt Huntington is the famous weather-stained bronze lion that guards the entrance to the old Steele high school building here.
Mrs. Huntington’s work has been subjected to an impressive critical analysis in French by the famous European art expert, Emile Schaub-Koch.
A copy of the book was received here as plans were being made for the annual banquet of Steele alumnae and their husbands and wives. The dinner is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Engineers club.
MRS. HUNTINGTON, is sending the book to Dayton, recalled her commission to do the lion statue.
“I went to Naples to model the lion, having first made an accurate one-fourth life model at the Bronz zoo. I remember the order came by way of Daniel French, the famous sculptor of those days. He called me to his studio and said as I was an aminalier, would I care to undertake a commission from the Dayton high school where young pupils had raised something over $300 in nickels for a statue”
French suggested that Mrs. Huntington go to France or Italy to have the figure cast in bronze. The commission would be insufficient for bronze casting in the United States, he told her.
THE SCULPTOR went to Europe with her family in 1906 and in the winter of 1907 she left for Naples, where she had a studio that was a cave cut into the soft, rocky cliff, the glassed-in front facing north.
“This was right next to the bronze foundry. I worked all that winter modeling the large lion and in March and April they cast it by the cire-perdu process exactly as it was done in the days of Benvenuto Cellini. . The place was lit only by oil torches. An image of the Virgin was conspicuous and during the crucial pourings of the bronze, the excited workmen knelt to pray for the success of the pouring.
“Having watched the entire modeling of the piece, each man took a personal interest in its welfare,” she explained. “It was in the fall of 1908 that the lion was unveiled. Such happy days before World War I,” Mrs. Huntington added wistfully.
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IT IS INTERESTING to note that the sculptor did the figure of a lioness for the Canton Art Institute at Canton, O. The “king of beasts” also inspired sculptures for the Hispanic Society of America and the bridge at Mariners Museum park at Newport News, Va.
The artist was born Anna Vaughn Hyatt at Cambridge, Mass., in 1876. Her father, Alpheus Hyatt was an eminent palaeontologist.
After studying in Boston with Kitson, she spent several months at the Art Students league in New York.
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AMONG Mrs. Huntington’s most celebrated works are an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc for which she was decorated with the purple rosette by the French government; Bulls Fighting which won the Shaw Prize of the National Academy of Design in 1928 and Greyhounds Playing for which she received the Widener Gold Medal of the Pennsylvanian academy in 1937.
In 1940 a special medal of honor was presented to her by the National Sculpture society in recognition of her own achievements and for “her unfailing interest in her fellow sculptors.”