American, 1885 – 1966
Flight of Night, 1916
Bronze, Dark brown and green patina
26 ½ H. x 31 W. x 7 D. inches
Period marble base, 10 H., overall height: 36 inches
Signed on base: Paul Manship © 1916
Inscribed on base: ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N – Y –
Edition of six castings
Kennedy Galleries, New York
Private Collection, New Jersey, 1970’s
By descent, private collection, California
Flight of Night, 1916 is often considered one of Paul Manship’s most elegant works. Modeled early in his career it is an impression of his mature style, evoking classical Greek and East Indian sources. The allegorical figure of night floats in space over the universe, suggesting ubiquity and her raised arms round her head echo the globe over which she hovers. Her clearly delineated form suggests the crescent shape of the moon; the crescent moon was the ancient attribute of the virgin. Flight looks back over her shoulder, while her body moves forward with speed to make way for the oncoming day. her form is weighted toward the left, heightening the sense of movement.
As an artist, Manship was particularly focused on the quality and presentation of all his sculptures. He often utilized exquisite finishes, gilding and patinas to the sculpture’s surface. His castings were mounted to high quality marble, stone and semi-precious stone bases, designed as an integral part of the composition and presentation of the subject. The artist put quality and design into every aspect of his work.
The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, Minnesota
Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine
Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI
Paul Howard Manship is perhaps best known as the creator of one of New York City’s most beloved public art works, the Prometheus Fountain in Rockefeller Center. Commissioned in the wake of the Great Depression, Prometheus, the great champion of Man, remains a symbol of hope and prosperity. Manship was commissioned to design this major piece of American public art at the height of his success, and it embodies the dichotomy of classicism and modernism that existed in his work and made it so popular with such a wide audience.
After studying at some of the most prestigious American institutes in his youth, Manship won the esteemed Prix de Rome in 1909. He spent three years devoted solely to his artistic development at the American Academy in Rome, and it was in Europe that he discovered his affinity for the archaic style that would come to be predominant in his mature work. Greek and Roman sculpture influenced not only Paul Manship’s style, but also his subject matter. His exposure to classical Eastern sculpture is also evident in the strong implications of motion in his works.
Stylistically Manship is considered a steward of Art Deco, the predominant
movement in the 1920s and 30s, although he himself did not proselytize it. 2 Works from his mature period showcase a refined simplification of form and line, freeing the figures from the inherent rigidity of their medium. As public taste shifted to embrace abstraction towards the end of his career, Manship’s patronage remained steady. His work is situated at an important cusp in the history of sculpture. Lauded for his skill as a craftsman and his ability to translate archaic influences into the parlance of modernism, Paul Manship’s
legacy is that of an American artist embraced by the people.