Janet Scudder (October 27, 1869 in Terre Haute, Indiana – June 9, 1940) was an American sculptor.
Born as Netta Deweze Frazee, Scudder's childhood was marred by tragedy. Her father was a hardworking Terre Haute, Indiana confectioner who was active in community affairs. Her mother died, aged 38, on September 6, 1874. Four of her seven siblings died before they reached adulthood. As a result of these tragedies, Scudder was raised by Hannah Hussey, the family maid, cook and nurse, but she resented her stepmother.
Scudder studied drawing as a child under Professor William Ames of Rose Polytechnic Institute of Technology, now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Despite his fragile financial resources, her father enrolled her in the Cincinnati Art Academy so she could study sculpture with Louis Rebisso but woodcarving became her primary interest. While enrolled there she adopted the given name "Janet". Her father, William Scudder, died September 15, 1888, while his precocious daughter was teaching woodcarving at Coates College for Women in Terre Haute.
Three years later, she moved to Chicago where she was briefly employed as a furniture carver before being asked by Lorado Taft to join the White Rabbits. She was also commissioned to create figures for the Indiana and Illinois buildings at the World's Columbian Exposition. Upon seeing Frederick W. MacMonnies' fountain the Barge of State there she decided to go to Paris and work for him, which she did, becoming the first woman to be employed at his atelier. She also studied at the Académie Colarossi.
In 1896, after two years in Paris, Scudder returned to America and tried and failed to find work as a sculptor. Eventually, through the intercession of another artist, she received a commission to model the seal for the New York Bar Association. From that point on she was to not lack for work, becoming one of the most prolific and successful makers of small fountains and garden sculptures. The themes of her works were frequently children, animals and pixies, fairies and other elemental beings often combined with each other.
Scudder was a feminist and suffragette who frequently marched in parades and demonstrations involved with women's issues. She opposed having separate exhibitions for male and female artists and did not think that Mrs. or Miss should be used before a woman artist's name.
In 1913 Scudder returned to Paris, where she was to remain until returning to New York, following the onset of the Second World War in 1939, to reside with her companion, author Marion Benedict Cothren.
She died on June 9, 1940 in Rockport, Massachusetts.
A portrait of Scudder in the National Academy of Design collection was painted by Margaret Bucknell Pecorini.
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