MARSHALL FREDERICKS ONLINE EXHIBITIONS
That Bear looks familiar
I often refer to The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum Archives as the brain center of the Museum. There are tens of thousands of meticulously organized documents in the Archives. An almost complete record of Fredericks's life can be found across the gray metal shelves lined with boxes of photographs, articles, ideas, sketches, awards, books, drawings, business records, project files and letters.
When I research the archives I always find some unique treasure. Sometimes it's a small sketch, or a letter, a magazine or newspaper article, or most recently a small obscure book written in Swedish.
The book, from 1930, is a small picture book from the Skansen open air zoo in Sweden. It contains about 50 pages of black and white images of animals with amusing captions. The two bears, pictured below, are seated in their best pose and awaiting sweet treats. Wait a minute two bears... that sounds familiar doesn't it?
When I found the book it was open to the above page. I quickly made a scan and showed Andrea Ondish, our Curator of Education. I asked her to take a look at the scan and immediately she had seen what I had seen. That was the bear that inspired Marshall Fredericks's sculpture Two Bears.
The pose, paws, head, belly and the expression on the face are almost exact. We had found Fredericks's bear.
The book was found in a box containing several folders of animal photos. Eagles, gazelles, geese, ducks, otters, and bears... oh my!
35 years later Fredericks would finally sculpt those bears for Lincoln Square, a shopping mall, in Urbanna, Illinois.
Artists often use models as studies for their artwork. Human models pose easily... bears do not.
Inspiration comes from many sources. Marshall Fredericks's beloved Two Bears sculpture exists because of a little picture book, and a Swedish bear, begging for treats, that lived more than 90 years ago.
By: Geoffe Haney ~ Collection Manager
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