Born on Christmas in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Mary Etta Friend (1844-1907) and Charles H. Manship (1843-1911), Paul Howard Manship (1885-1966) considered it a good omen that he was the seventh child of a seventh daughter. He began to draw in emulation of his sister Adeline (1874-1893), but it was particularly his brother Luther (1879-1931) who served as an example. Luther earned his living as an engraver though his main interest was painting.Manship began his formal study of art at the Mechanics Arts High School and the Saint Paul School of Art (later the
Saint Paul Institute of Arts and Sciences) in Minnesota. His initial decision to pursue a career as a sculptor was largely motivated by his color blindness; he had started out life as a painter. For a painter color blindness is obviously a severe handicap, but for a sculptor it might prove an advantage: the eye, not being distracted by color, could concentrate on form. Indeed, a great sensitivity to form, to contour, and to line was to prove one of Manship's major strengths.

By the age of nineteen, Paul Manship had saved enough from his work as a free-lance illustrator and designer to head for New York City where he immediately enrolled at the Art Students League. His sculpture teacher there was Herman Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947), the first of several sculptors trained at the Ecole des Beaux+Arts with whom Manship was to study. Soon after his arrival in New York, Manship also found a position as an assistant to Solon Borglum (1868-1922), who was working on two major equestrian monument commissions at the time. During his apprenticeship with Borglum, Manship worked almost exclusively on animal figures, developing proficiency with this subject that would serve him well on later commissions. Manship always credited Borglum as the master who had most influenced him. It was also through the Borglum family that Manship met his future wife, Isabel McIlwaine (1883-1874), a student of William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) and a teacher of art at the Hannah Moore School in Baltimore, Maryland.

With money he had saved from working with Borglum, Manship signed up for classes under Charles Grafly (1862-1929) at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1907-08. When he later moved back to New York, Manship found a job as studio assistant to the Viennese sculptor Isidore Konti (1862-1930). While working in Konti's studio, Manship modeled a decorative relief entitled Man with Wild Horses. He was to show this piece at the National Academy of Design in 1908. This important early plaster had been considered lost until recent years when it was rediscovered and finally cast in bronze. This relief reflects Paul Manship's early mastery of the American academic tradition, before he traveled to Rome and developed his more modern, streamlined style of sculpture.

In 1909, at the age of twenty-three, Manship became the youngest sculptor as yet awarded the American Prix de Rome. By the first decade of the twentieth century, the Prix de Rome had become the most competitive and coveted prize among young American artists. The minimal requirements of this three-year fellowship afforded recipients opportunities to travel through Italy and Greece to study original works on site and in person. The conferral of this honor should be acknowledged as the one event that most closely directed Manship's career. As a result of his studies abroad, Manship developed an affinity for archaic and pre-classical works, and ultimately, the unified linear style of sculpture for which he is well known. His novel approach represented an abrupt break from the popular Beaux-Arts sculptural style of his teachers MacNeil, Borglum, and Grafly.

When Paul returned to New York in the fall of 1912, there was much for him to do. His years in Rome permitted him the leisure to study, work, and to mature in a rich cultural environment, and one where all his economic needs had been met. It was during this time that he evolved into an artist, producing work that was distinctively his own. But now that he was back in New York, earning a living had become a high priority. He had to find a studio and a place to live, and he had to make arrangements for his wedding. He took a studio at 27 Lexington Avenue, at the corner of Twenty- third Street then married Isabel at Grace Church on January 1, 1913, where Paul's funeral was to be held in 1966. In February Manship had a solo exhibition of his new work at the Architectural League in New York. This body of work was an instant success with both critics and the public, resulting in many private and public commissions. This success was followed by two more exhibitions in November, and by the end of the year Paul became father to
Back to Top
Click for More...
© 2002 Quarry Gallery; All rights reserved