Frog for Fountain, 1912

Allen sculpted at least three frogs, two were a pair of bookends and a third was found as a single clay amphibian sitting atop an attached clay base. His commissions list called it “Frog (large) for rock.” He mentions a frog fountain in his diary in 1912 in a list with the heading “Commissions beginning September, 1912” along with two other fountain pieces. Carrying that forward, he finished the frog on October 10th, took it home on the 14th to photograph. With the exception of a note that on March 29th he, “Worked on base of fountain, (frogs),” there is no other mention of a Frog Fountain until he lists it in 1922 as having been paid $100

Large Frog for a Fountain, clay model shown here by Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor, 1912

The frog is amusing and anatomically correct. Unlike his Crippled Frog Bookends, this creature is healthy and energetic, ready to leap off his perch. (For more about Allen’s animal sculpture work, see the Frog Bookends.) With this piece, instead of creating the figure of a frog to attach to a base of a different material, he merged the frog with its mount, positioning him diagonally across the geometric clay base. This design counterpoint creates more interesting lights and shadows as the viewer moves around the fountain, each side presenting nuances in detail. Note the smooth, undecorated planes of the base contrasting with the textured skin, facial features and details of the figural work. The bone structure is prominent at the lower back and limbs and the musculature in the legs is dynamic. This frog isn’t basking in the sun, rather, it is spirited. Its forelegs lift his shoulders high, the head and prominent eyes strain forward toward its landing target and the hindquarters push the body forward from the feet and thighs. The whole figure is ready to jump. Balance is achieved on the diagonal. The head which projects dynamically off the edge of the solid base is grounded by the back side of the frog crouched symmetrically at the opposite corner. It’s a charming piece.

Exhibited at MFA 2/17/13 with Crippled Frog Bookends
Sold in 1922 for $100.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *