Charles Cary Rumsey1879 - 1922
Born: 1879, Buffalo, New York
Born into a socially prominent Long Island family with several artists in its history, Charles Cary Rumsey showed an early interest in art and in animals. When his parents gave him his own horse as a child, he impressed them with his skill in sculpting the creature. Fortunately, Rumsey's family encouraged his talent in sculpture, and at only fourteen years of age, he was permitted to remain in Paris following a family vacation to apprentice under the renowned American sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett for two years. This experience under Bartlett's tutelage served as a valuable supplement to his traditional education in America, which continued at the Nichols School in Buffalo upon his return home in 1895. In 1898, Rumsey began studies at Harvard University, taking summer classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 1901, before he had completed his schooling, Rumsey exhibited work at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.
Upon his graduation from Harvard in 1902, Bela Lyon Pratt, an artist he had studied under in Boston, convinced Rumsey to return to Paris. While he remained in the French capital for only four years, Rumsey made the most of his time there; he set up a studio in the city's Latin Quarter, studied at the Julian and Colarossi Academies, and worked under famous animalier sculptor, Emmanuel Fremiet. A talented athlete, he also gained minor fame as an amateur boxer in Paris and established himself as an internationally ranked polo player.
Horses were central to Rumsey's life, and he expressed his love by continually returning to these animals as subject matter throughout his sculpting career; he was also known for his depictions of polo players, Native American warriors, Spanish "conquistadors" (believed responsible for introducing some of the first horses to America), and large game animals. Rumsey was often commissioned to create his equestrian images for wealthy fellow horse enthusiasts, though he also received public commissions for monumental installations. His Buffalo Hunt frieze, completed in 1916 on New York City's Manhattan Bridge, is Rumsey's best-known work of this type.
An organizer of and participant in the groundbreaking Armory Show of 1913 in New York, Rumsey exhibited regularly while he was still living. He took time away from his career and family life in 1917 and 1918 to return to France and fight as a United States Army cavalry officer in World War I. Tragically, Rumsey was killed in an automobile accident in 1922. Since his death, however, his work has been featured in exhibitions of American sculpture at a wide variety of museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The subject of a 1983 retrospective at the Burchfield Center in Buffalo, NY, examples of Rumsey's work can today be found all over the world.