The genesis of my interest in Nancy Cox-McCormack was a series of conversations begun over fifty years ago with my great-great aunt, Ethel Fairmont Snyder Beebe. Aunt Ethel met this sculptor of portrait busts in Chicago in 1912 and remained her friend until Cox-McCormack’s death in 1967. A plaster cast of Cox-McCormack’s Mahatma Gandhi, photographs and correspondence between them were among my aunt’s papers when she died in 1977 at the age of 96. Curiously, I lived with that sculpture for almost twenty-five years before I became truly interested in the woman who had modeled it. As I neared the end of my coursework for a Masters degree in Art History, the subject of a thesis had to be addressed. As a librarian with a strong interest in the history of the book, I had at first assumed I would write an in-depth analysis of the illuminations of a medieval manuscript. However, I did a quick reality check. I was raised Presbyterian and became associated with the Society of Friends in my teens. My command of church iconography was less than comprehensive. Furthermore, my Latin was rusty. One afternoon, I found myself looking at the miniature Gandhi portrait bust in my dining room. I wondered if anyone had written on its sculptor. Much to my delight a review of the literature confirmed that except for the superficial “Who’s Who” type biographical entries and one discussion of her friendship with Ezra Pound by a Pound scholar with no interest in her art, there was nothing. Fortunately, she had deposited her papers at two libraries: Smith College’s Sophia Smith Collection: Women’s History Archives and the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Furthermore, she had given those in Tennessee “for the people” and a microfilm copy of those archived papers could be purchased (something I quickly did).
What I discovered was that this American woman sculptor who had modeled over 70 portrait busts and bas reliefs (including such notables as Jane Addams, Clarence Darrow, Ezra Pound, Benito Mussolini and Mahatma Gandhi); who had had one-woman shows at the Jacques Seligman Galleries in both Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, the Art Institute of Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco had only a brief obituary that identified her as the daughter of the late Hershel and Nancy Cox and the widow of Charles Thomas Cushman. There was no mention of her life as an artist. Neither was there any reference to her life as an author. She wrote a children’s book, Peeps: The Really Truly Sunshine Fairy and a well-reviewed account of her travels in Spain that included an account of her time spent modeling a portrait bust of the Spanish dictator, Miguel Primo de Rivera (Pleasant Days in Spain). I made the decision to correct that and began what is an ongoing project to document the artistic, cultural and political contributions of Nancy Cox-McCormack Cushman.
As noted above, published biographical information on this Tennessee-born sculptor is limited. The guides to her papers archived at Smith College and the Tennessee State Library and Archives (see URL links below) both include biographical profiles. I posted a biography on AskArt and Chapter 2 of my thesis, The Life and Portrait Sculpture of Nancy Cox-McCormack, provides biographical information. Her archived papers document that she was working on her memoirs but these were never completed.
Of the some seventy sculptures known to have been modeled by Cox-McCormack, the current location of approximately half of them remains unknown (though it should be noted that since beginning this project, I have located some dozen works previously listed as “location unknown” and that the location of two have been verified just within the last year as being in private collections). An inventory of both her sculptures and her paintings are included in the Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.
PUBLICALLY-INSTALLED SCULPTURES BY NANCY COX-MCCORMACK
ARRANGED BY DATE
1912 Harmony (sculpture). Bronze with terra cotta copies. Exhibited in January 1913 Chicago Artists Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. A terra-cotta copy is in the Cheekwood Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.
1914 George Woodruff" and "Frederick Woodruff (bas-relief portrait). Bronze. Memorial plaque. Exhibited in 1914 exhibition at the Palette and Chisel Club. Subsequently installed in the First National Bank of Joliet, IL.
1918 Woman in Civics and Woman in the Home (cement cast bas-relief sculpture). Installed in the exterior of the Women's Club, Rockford, IL.
1920 Colonel George C. Rankin (bas-relief). Bronze. Memorial for World War I hero. Inscribed "A MEMORIAL ERECTED BY HIS FRIENDS". Installed in the Court House in Monmouth, Illinois.
In Memoriam (bas-relief). Bronze. Honors members, sons of members and employees of the Chicago Athletic Association who died in World War I. Installed in the central staircase of the Athletic Association in 1921.
1921 Ezra Pound (life mask). Bronze. American poet. Exhibited in 1923 Spring Salon in Paris, the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., the Art Institute of Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Currently located in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Ezra Pound (desk-size painted plaster portrait bust). Currently located in the Rare Book Collection, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Eunice Tietjens (bas- relief medaillon). Plastercast. Poet/Editor of Poetry Magazine. Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois
1922 Giacomo Boni (portrait bust). Bronze. Archaeologist. Exhibited at 1923 Fall Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in Rome, the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., the Art Institute of Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Two castings, originally placed in Rome at the Palazzo dei Conservatori and in Venice in the mayor's office in the Doges Palace. Roman copy currently in the Museo di Roma.
Lauro de Bosis (desk-size portrait bust). Bronze. Italian poet and classicist. Exhibited at the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., the Art Institute of Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Currently located at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Lilliana de Bosis (bas relief). Bronze. Close friend of Nancy Cox-McCormack and mother of Lauro de Bosis. Exhibited at the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York. Currently located at the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
1923 Benito Mussolini (portrait bust), Bronze. Premier of Italy. Four castings made. Documented as originally placed as follows: one copy to Benito Mussolini; one copy sold at the Paris Galerie Jacques Seligmann to August C. Gurnee, who planned to donate it to the Petit Palais; the commissioned copy went to the Philadelphia Italian Cultural Club Cenacolo Leonardo da Vinci which presented it to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and one was sold to Chicago lawyer, Max Pam. Exhibited at 1923 Fall Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in Rome, the 1924 Spring Salon in Paris, the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., the Art Institute of Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. One casting is currently at the Howard F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Location of others is unknown. Miniature glazed plaster casting also made.
Lydia Rismondo (portrait bust). Terra cotta. Exhibited at the1923 Fall Salon of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in Rome, the 1924 Spring Salon in Paris, the Jacques Seligmann Galleries in Paris and New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D. C., the Art Institute in Chicago and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Currently located at the Howard F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
1924 Edward Ward Carmack (heroic full-figure sculpture). Bronze. Replacement version executed in Rome and cast in Naples. Originally installed in the front of the Capitol building of the State of Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee. Relocated to the side grounds of the Capitol in 1959.
1926 Hiram Mills Perkins and Caroline Barkdull Perkins Memorial (bas-relief wall plaque). Bronze. Professor of Astronomy and his wife. Exhibited at the National Gallery in Washington, D. C. Installed in the rotunda of the observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio.
1927 Craven Laycock (portrait bust). Bronze. Dean of Dartmouth College. Originally placed in George F. Baker Memorial Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
1930 Charles Haubiel (portrait bust). Bronze. Composer/Pianist/Musicologist. Professor of Music, New York University. The first casting was acquired by the subject. A second casting, after being widely exhibited, was donated in 1947 by Cox-McCormack to Ohio State University to be placed with the subject's manuscripts in the Ohioana Library, State University of Ohio. According to the Web site for Washington State University's libraries, a bust of the Haubiel by Nancy Cox-McCormack was included with a collection of Haubiel papers donated to them.
1931 Mahatma Gandhi (portrait bust). Bronze. Three castings are known to have been made. The casting in the sculptor's possession at the time of her death is at Howard F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Miniature plaster castings also made.
Dr. Laurence M. Gould (portrait bust). Bronze. Explorer - Byrd Expedition/President of Carleton College. Originally placed in Alumni Hall, University of Michigan.
1934 Rudolph Evans (portrait bust). Bronze. American sculptor, best known for his heroic figure of Thomas Jefferson in the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D. C. Originally placed in the Academy building of the National Institute of Arts & Letters, 653 West 155th Street, New York, NY
1935 Jane Addams Memorial (bas relief plaque). Bronze. Primary installation at Jane Addams' Hull House, Chicago, Illinois. Later reduced and cast as a medallion. Struck by the Medallic Art Company. Known copies of the medallion at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; and the Peace Collection at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA.
Mrs. Joseph T. (Louise de Koven) Bowen (bas relief sculpture). Bronze. Close friend of Jane Addams and President of the Hull-House Association. One casting in Neilson Library, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
1941 Lola Ridge (death mask). Plaster. American poet. Included with the Lola Ridge papers deposited in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College.
1944 Charles Upson Clark (bas relief). Bronze. Professor of Medieval Latin. Included in the 1952 National Sculpture Society bas-relief exhibition. Acquired by Yale University. Originally placed in the Classics Building. Currently in Yale University's Sterling Library, New Haven, Connecticut.
PUBLICATIONS BY NANCY COX-MCCORMACK
MY WRITINGS AND PRESENTATIONS ON NANCY COX-MCCORMACK
Photo Credit: Nancy Cox-McCormack in her studio with her Benito Mussolini - Photograph from Times Wide World Photos.
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