An American Girl
14 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.
Signed, on back of base: Potter
underneath base: Bessie Potter \ Vonnoh [likely added after 1915]
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Purchase with funds from the Ruth Carter Stevenson Acquisitions Endowment
During the 1890s, Vonnoh began sculpting small-scale portraits of wealthy Chicago women. Modeled in clay and cast in plaster, these statuettes, which she called “Potterines,” drew widespread praise for their vigorous modeling, intricate drapery, and lifelike compositions. Vonnoh excelled in conveying spontaneity through gesture and pose—one critic described her plasters as “instantaneous photographs in clay of ever graceful people”—and her figures often appear to converse with someone outside the composition.
Portraying wealthy White Americans, Vonnoh’s statuettes reinforce her era’s prevailing norms and expectations for femininity. The generic title of this work situates the figure as more than a portrait of a specific person; she appears as an archetype of ideal dress, comportment, and temperament.
—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)