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Artifact of the Month – Jaguar statues

Inspired by a recent story about how they came to be, I have decided to make our two Jaguar statues the artifacts of the month for April! These two pieces are currently displayed in what we call our Huntington Room, so a lot of visitors probably haven’t seen them as this room is mostly used as a rental space or for staff meetings/events. The room was named for Archer and Anna Huntington, with a smaller adjoining room (The Anna Room) being named for Anna Huntington.

The jaguars, titled “Reaching Jaguar” and just “Jaguar” were carved by Anna Hyatt Huntington sometime between 1926-1932. Anna was a talented sculptress known for the accuracy in which she portrayed animals. Anna’s father, Alpheus Hyatt, was a professor of zoology and paleontology and so Anna gained a love of animals early in life. Despite this love, she had intended to become a violinist until an illness caused her to have to re-evaluate her chosen path. Anna’s sister, Harriet, is who Anna credits with having really pulled her into the world of sculpting. Harriet worked with Anna to create a sculpture of a boy and an animal as Harriet was not able to sculpt animals well. (You can read an interview of Anna HERE where she mentions this) Harriet is also known for sculpting a statue on our property called Shouting Boy. For many years he was located in Kettle Pond, but now he is in one of our courtyards.

Anna Huntington with her sculptures in 1965

Anna spent much of her time study animals at various places, including the Bronx Zoo, where she began to study a jaguar from Paraguay named Señor Lopez. Señor Lopez was know for being very savage and fierce, even towards his own kind. The zoo once put a female in his enclosure and he killed her instantly. Anna spent months studying this Señor Lopez, who would become the model for a number of “Reaching Jaguar” and “Jaguar” statues that were made, including two that stand at the zoo. Anna was eventually able to befriend the jaguar, who would let no one else get anywhere near him. Below is a postcard from the zoo of Señor Lopez.

Years later, while in France, Anna took the clay sketches she had made of Señor Lopez and created the larger sculptures. It was in the 1920’s and 30’s that more jaguar sculptures were created from the originals, including ours. For a long time these sculptures stood outside near our main entrance, which is now our business entrance.

To help preserve the statures, they were moved inside the museum in the 90’s into the Huntington room, where they remain to this day.

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