The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Frederick William MacMonnies, 1863-1937

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1863.09.28
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, NY
Date of Death: 1937.03.22
Place of Death: New York, NY


Frederick William MacMonnies was a sculptor and painter. His first wife Mary Fairchild MacMonnies Low (1858–1946) was also a painter.


MacMonnies worked as an apprentice in New York from 1880–84 and also from 1885-86 in the studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In Paris in 1884 he studied drawing at Colarossi’s, and later at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he studied sculpture with Alexandre Falguière, whose assistant he was to become. He also worked in Antonin Mercié’s studio. In 1887 and 1888 he won the Prix d’atelier, and also received favourable reviews at the Salon of 1889.

MacMonnies became a successful sculptor and was able to open his own studio. He introduced fountain sculpture as a new genre in America, creating life-size mythological pieces in the Art Nouveau style for country estates. By 1890 he was employing studio assistants and several French and American foundries to produce his bronzes. In 1891 he became the first American to be awarded a second-class medal at the Paris Salon.

In the late 1890s MacMonnies returned to painting. He was close friends with Whistler at this time, and, like him, admired the work of Velázquez whose paintings he copied at the Prado in Madrid in 1904. MacMonnies taught drawing with Whistler at the Académie Carmen. For almost two decades he was also a popular teacher of American artists in Paris and at his Giverny estate.


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Gordon, E. A., Frederick William MacMonnies and Mary Fairchild MacMonnies: Two American Artists at Giverny, exhibition catalogue, Musée Municipal Art Gallery Poulain, Vernon, 1988; Smart, M., A Flight with Fame: The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies, 1863-1937, Madison, CT, 1996; Smart, M., The Sculpture of Frederick William MacMonnies: A Critical Catalogue, dissertation, New York University, microfilm, Ann Arbor, 1998; Gordon, Ethelyn Adina, 'Frederick William MacMonnies', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 June 2002).