Carl Akeley

Carl Akeley
American 1864–1926
Going, 1924

Bronze, dark brown patina
6 7/8 H. x 12 1/2 W. x 4 3/8 D. inches
Titled on top center base: Going
Signed right front base: Carl Akeley / © 1924
Inscribed rear base: Roman Bronze Works N-Y-

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These two fine bronze casts of elephants demonstrate Akeley’s commitment to the conservation and understanding of the endangered African mammal. Such exemplary rendering attests to the profound relationship Akeley held with African wildlife in the early twentieth century.

Carl Akeley
American 1864–1926
Stung, 1914

Bronze, dark brown patina
9 H. x 11 1/2 W. x 5 D. inches
Signed dated and inscribed: Stung / Carl Akeley / © 1914
Inscribed: A7 ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N-Y-

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This fine bronze cast of an elephant demonstrates Akeley’s commitment to the conservation and understanding of the endangered African mammal. Such exemplary rendering attests to the profound
relationship Akeley held with African wildlife in the early twentieth century.

Artist Description

A sculptor, taxidermist, biologist, and conservationist, Akeley played an essential role in the establishing of the American Museum of Natural History’s African hall. As a taxidermist, he redefined the practice by replicating animal’s shapes with armatures of wood. He used clay to recreate layers of muscles, veins, and tendons before creating a cast on which the finest specimens of fur would be displayed. He hoped such facsimiles would allow individuals to experience the essence of the wild African habitat of which they originated.

Though his extensive knowledge of African fauna gained him integrity, Akeley sought to gain a foothold in the fine art world. It was during this time he made Going, Stung, and other meticulous executions of elephants in bronze, demonstrating not only excellent craftsmanship but his devotion to understanding and preserving what he believed to be one of the most peaceful and sagacious creatures of the plains. The sculptures were well received, especially by J.P. Morgan, who guaranteed his assistance in the creation of the African hall.

Akeley lived and worked in America, making frequent jaunts to Africa to study wildlife. In 1909, he accompanied Theodore Roosevelt on a one-year expedition; in 1925 the first African national park was named in his honor. His success with bronze gained him membership to the National Sculpture Society, and his taxidermy further proved his talents. On his fifth African expedition in 1926, Akeley contracted and died of fever. But his legacy lived on, both in his emphatic sculptures and in the posthumous completion of the African hall in 1936, rightly named “The Akeley Hall of African Mammals”.

Public Collections

  • Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
  • R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport, LA
  • Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH
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