"Reproof" a marble sculpture by Edward Russell Thaxter
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This enchanting museum quality Carrara marble group is the work of Edward Russell Thaxter (born Yarmouth, ME 1857-died Naples, Italy 1881).
The sculpture depicts a young girl sternly scolds her cat, who has just attacked a bird's nest. She clutches the cat to her chest and looks at it disapprovingly, while waving her hand in discipline. Meanwhile, a dead bird lies at her feet and feathers hang limply from the cat’s mouth. This scene is a prelude to the responsibilities of motherhood: the young girl who is now reprimanding her cat will have to ensure that her own children are well behaved in the future. Although Edward Thaxter's life was short, he excelled in creating detailed neoclassical sculpture.
Signed: E. R. Thaxter
Height with pedestal: 76" (193 cm)
Height of sculpture: 40" (101 cm)
Another example of this marble figure is in the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington DC.
Edward Russell Thaxter was only twenty-four years old when he died, but in his brief career as a sculptor he garnered praise for his work and was deemed an artist with a promising future. Born in Yarmouth, Maine, he is believed to have chosen to study sculpture after seeing the work of John Rogers. At the age of sixteen, Thaxter moved to Boston and studied with the portrait sculptor John D. Perry.
In 1878 Thaxter left for Florence, Italy, where he took a studio and began to create the neoclassical works that won him critical attention. In 1881 he contracted typhoid fever, which left him in a weakened condition, and within the year the young sculptor died in Naples. Thaxter's untimely death was noted with genuine regret in the American press. The critic James Jackson Jarves, writing in the New York Times in August 1881, called it "a severe loss to the young school of American sculpture."