Classical Greco Roman Marble Bust by American Sculptor Waldo Story

Thomas Waldo Story (Continental, 19th Century)

Classical Greco Roman Marble Bust by American Sculptor Waldo Story


19th century classical sculpture of Hermes by American sculptor Thomas Waldo Story. Signed "Waldo Story Rome" and dated 1886. Slightly larger than life size.
Thomas Waldo Story:
The son of sculptor and writer-poet William Wetmore Story, Thomas Story became a sculptor in Neo-Classical style of figure and commemorative sculpture. Among his sculpture for which he is noted is a statue of Sir William Vernon Harcourt in the House of Commons in London; the bronze door at the J. Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City; and a community drinking fountain in Hopedale, Massachusetts, commissioned by General William F. Draper, Ambassador to Italy with ties to Hopedale.

Thomas Story, born in Rome, was from a distinguished family, which included a paternal grandfather, Joseph Story, who was a judge of the United States Supreme Court. From the time of his birth, Thomas Story lived a privileged existence surrounded by material splendor and intellectual, talented and aristocratic persons. During his childhood with his parents, his father, William Wetmore Story, and his mother, Emelyn, from a prominent Cambridge, Massachusetts family named Eldredge, lived in Rome, from the 1850s, where they leased the Barberini Palace , one of the more famous historical structures in Rome, built by Pope Urban VIII in 1660. The family also spent time in Florence and summer months in Sienna with their good friend and poet, Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning. With the Brownings according to Robert in his poetry, the families shared the sadness of death of children, as the Brownings had lost a young daughter and the Storys had lost a son, Joseph Story, born in 1847 and died in 1853, two years before the birth of Thomas.

During Thomas' growing up years, the Wetmore home at the Palace became a center for Americans visiting Rome as well as English aristocrats such as the Marlboroughs of Blenheim and Astors at Cliveden. Visiting were Americans of intellectual literary and artistic circles such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Russell Lowell, Thomas Crawford and William Longfellow. These people were attracted by the graciousness of their hosts and especially by William Story, who had a sculpture studio in the Palace, and also did much of his own writing in the Barberini Library, noted for its valuable manuscripts. In 1893, the elder Storys celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Palace. Two years later William Wetmore Story died, and Thomas Story inherited the Palace lease and its family art collection.

As a young man, Thomas Story studied sculpture with his father and became an adept carver of marble. He had a brother, artist Julian Story, and a sister, Edith, who married the Marchese Peruzzi of Italy. He was educated in England at Eton and Christ Church at Oxford, and was first married to London born Ada Maud Broadwood, whose family manufactured pianos and had lawyer members in England and New Orleans. A piece that brought him early recognition was Fountain of Love, 1894-1896, installed at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. One of his earliest prominent American collectors, was Mrs. Potter Palmer of Chicago.

In England, Story closely associated with painter, James McNeill Whistler, evidenced during the 1880s when there is much surviving correspondence between the two and much writing by Whistler about Story. Photographs of 1882 and 1883 show Story with Whistler in his studio as well as together with the painter Frank Miles and sculptor Frederick Lawless. During this time, Whistler painted a portrait of Story's wife, Ada Broadwood Story.

Following is a description that tells of an aspect of the Whistler-Story friendship.

"In January 1883, Oscar Wilde wrote to Story that JW 'spoke of your art with more enthusiasm than I ever heard him speak of any modern work'. It appears that JW, who, according to F. Lawless, modelled statuettes, worked with Story in London. As President of the Royal Society of British Artists, JW proposed Story as a member in 1887. It was due to JW's influence that Story, along with Frederick MacMonnies and Auguste St Gaudens, joined the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers."

Thomas Story spent most of his early career in England and Italy, where he had a studio in Rome and created numerous portrait busts and full-length marble portraits of society persons including Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough and Lord Randolph Churchill. He also received commissions for English-style garden fountains including The Fountain of Love at Cliveton for the Astors and the Triumph of Galatea at Tring for the Rothchilds.

Story lived in America, especially in New York City where, as mentioned earlier, he filled a commission of bronze doors for the J. Pierpont Morgan Library. No longer with Ada Broadwood with whom he had a daughter, Gwendolyn, he accompanied American opera singer Bessie Abbot, who, for a three-year period, 1905 to 1908, had a contract for leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera. Her maiden name was Pickens, and prominent family members included wealthy New York merchants, an American ambassador to Russia and Archbishop Benson of Canterbury. Her personal background was one of 'riches to rags to riches' including much success as a singer in Europe as well as the United States. According to a theatre reviews, she and Thomas Story had a "romance of some years standing" (nytimes), and he designed most of her operatic role costumes. Stated in their New York Times multi-columned feature wedding announcement of September, 1912 is that the couple were married "some time ago in Europe".

In July 1907, Thomas Story had become involved in a business venture that anchored him to New York City when Abbot was singing there. He and Frederick Gebhard organized the Ritz Importation Company of America, Canada and Cuba, with offices at 547 Fifth Avenue. Among their imports were champagne and food item specialties. In 1908, Story had the furnishings of the Barberini Palace auctioned off, apparently making substantial sums including five-thousand dollars for items belonging just to the private theatre.

In 1915, Thomas Story died in New York City.

Origin Continental
Category Marble
Period 19th Century
Style Neoclassical

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CONDITION: Missing plinth. Faint discoloration(probably hard water stain) along back of neck and shoulder. Does not distract from the sculpture. See last photo.

THB REF: 3724125717