Tigers Watching, 1906.
Tigers Watching, 1906
By Daria Rose Foner
Characteristic of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s early sculpture, Tigers Watching displays her ability to combine anatomical accuracy with fluidity of form. Rendered with delicacy, the diminutive animal group reveals Huntington’s interest in materiality, as the rough base contrasts with the animals’ refined forms—the smooth curves of the tigers’ spines in opposition to the rocky outcrop on which the animals perch.
In April 1906, The New York Times reported that the artist had modeled but not yet cast Tigers Watching, describing it as follows: “The tiger group shows two of the beasts evidently stalking their prey and in a small compass the sculptor has created a strikingly attractive piece of modeling.” Only two months later, the Roman Bronze Works foundry delivered a specially-ordered fifth cast of the sculpture to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The press extolled the enlargement of the Metropolitan’s collection of American sculpture, largely under the auspices of Daniel Chester French--Tigers Watching was acquired at the same time as bronzes by Augustus St. Gaudens, Janet Scudders, and Gutzon Borglum—and praised the works’ national character and expressive means. Yet seven years after Tigers Watching entered the Metropolitan’s collection, such small bronzes were still sometimes relegated to merely ornamental status. Elizabeth Lounsbery wrote in American Homes and Gardens, “The subtle grace and power of the cat tribe has never been more graphically depicted than in this little bronze, the placing of which on top of a high book-case is obvious and most decorative.”