Harriet Frishmuth spent much of her youth traveling in Europe with her mother and sisters, attending school in Paris and summering in Switzerland. Her artistic development began in Switzerland when she took lessons in modeling from a Mrs. Hinton-possibly the American painter and sculptor Lucy Brownson Hinton. In Paris, she worked under Henri-Désiré Gauquié, Jean-Antoine Injalbert, and Auguste Rodin; in Berlin, under Cuno von Euchtritz; and in New York, under Solon Borglum and Hermon MacNeil at the Art Students League. In 1908, after apprenticing first with Borglum and then with Karl Bitter, she opened her own studio in New York. Five years later she moved into No. 6 Sniffen Court in Manhattan, where she was to live and work until 1937. Her most important sculptures were executed there.


Frishmuth's first important commission was a relief of Dr. Abraham Jacobi, which she executed for the New York County Medical Society in 1910 and exhibited at the Academy that year. However, she specialized in small figural bronzes, especially allegorical works, whose hallmarks are their rhythmic and decorative qualities. Saki Sundial, modeled in Paris in 1913, was the first of these bronzes. Perhaps the most famous ones are The Vine (1921, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and The Joy of the Waters, the latter being representative of Frishmuth's several fountain conceptions. Beginning in the 1930s, she turned increasingly to more introspective works, such as Reflections, exhibited at the Academy in 1930, and Daydreams (1939). Among her portraits is a marble bust of Woodrow Wilson (1924), done for the Virginia state capitol in Richmond.


Frishmuth began exhibiting at the Academy in 1908 and showed her work regularly there through the 1930s. She won the Elizabeth N. Watrous Gold Medal at the Academy's winter exhibition of 1922 and the Julia A. Shaw Memorial Prize in the winter exhibition the following year. Besides her membership in the Academy, Frishmuth belonged to the National Sculpture Society and the Architectural League of New York.


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