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John Clements Gregory
American Academy in Rome, Art Students League, The Lambeth School of Art Sculptor
A sculptor*, medalist*, and teacher, John Clements Gregory came to the U.S. at age 14 and spent most of his life in New York City. Of him it was written that he "transformed classical themes into a modernist aesthetic." (Falk)
As an educator, he was a professor of art at Columbia University from 1916-25, and Chair of the Sculpture Department of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design from 1921-23.
A medallic* artist, he was a member of the Society of Medalists*. In 1940, he entered Ceres Blessing, an allegorical medal, in the Whitney Museum of American Art's exhibition sponsored by the National Sculpture Society*.
His education included an apprenticeship with J. Massey Rhind, 1900; a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome*, 1912-15; study at the Art Students League* with George Grey Barnard; the Lambeth School Art* in London; and in Paris with Antonin Mercié. In New York City, he studied sculpture with with Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Gutzon Borglum, and Herbert Adams.
John Gregory was a member of: The National Academy of Design*, 1931 and a National Academician, 1934; National Sculpture Society (president); Architectural League* of New York; and National Institute of Arts and Letters*.
John Clements Gregory was a sculptor known for architectural works, medals, heroic statuary, and as a lecturer and teacer. He was born in London in 1879, immigrating with his family to New York at the age of fourteen. Gregory may have begun his art studies in England with his grandfather, the British portrait painter John Crowe Read. It is known that after spending part of his childhood in New Zeland, he arrived in the united states in 1893.
He worked as a junior clerk in the United States Senate from 1893-1896. Between 1897 and 1899 he was employed by Columbia Boradcasting Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He landed an apprenticeship to the Scottish-born sculptor, John Massey Rhind before he was hired as an assistant to Herman Atkins MacNeil in 1902. His nights were spent at the Art Students League, studying with George Grey Barnard and Hermon MacNeil. He furthered his studies at London's Lambeth Art School and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Antonin Mercie in Paris for two years.
Between 1912 and 1915, he further developed his style by working as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. Through this experience, he reaped the benefits of a new and vigorous organization and as well as obtaining first hand observation of the culture of the old classical schools.
Upon his return from Italy in 1915, he opened his own studio in New York City to work on his own commissions. He quickly established himself as a sculptor of architectural ornament and garden figures. He, eventually, became a noted medalist sculptor as well.
He became an American citizen in 1912, and as such, served in the camoflage sector of the U.S. Navy during World War 1.
Gregory joined the faculty of Columbia University, New York where he worked as an instructor of sculpture between 1916 and 1925. He was the Chair of the Sculpture Department of the Beaux- Arts Institute of Design, Paris from 1921- 1923. He exhibited with the Society of Independent Artists in 1917.
He was included in an early show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1918. He also exhibited for many years at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. In 1921 Gregory was awarded the medal for sculpture of the N\ew York Architectural League, followed by and Honorable Mention in a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1921 and a medal from the Concord Art Association in 1926. He recieved a gold medal from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1933.
Gregory was known as a highly traditional sculptor, his work even occasionally being characterized as neoclassical, probably due more to his common use of classical subject matter than to his sculptural style. As an artist, Gregory transformed "classical themes into a modern aesthetic". The contours and planes of works such as Philomela: A Nymph and Toy Venus allude to the acients, but are clearly the work of a modernist. Indeed they aare classics for the 20th century.
Gregory was awarded numerous commissions. One of the most notable, from 1932, are the nine Georgia marble plaques, each illustrating a scene from a Shakespeare play, on the facade of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Later in the decade, he produced a large equestrian statue of Revolutionary War patriot Anthony Wayne, which today stands outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He also Produced the bas relied plaques of the Huntington Mausoleum for architect John Russell Pope at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. Another architectural work are the huge panels of Columbia and Urban Life, which flank the steps in John Marshall Park, Washington, D.C. He also contrbuted Rememberance, a graceful figure created in Carrara marble in 1951, to the Qoeld War I Memorial Room, which stands at the end of one loggia at the Suresnes American Cemetery and War Memorial near Paris.
John Gregory was a member of the National Academy (associate 1927, full academician 1934) and served on its council from 1935 to 1939 and honorary president from 1953-1958. He received their Medal of Honor in 1956, and following his death in 1958, the society established the John Gregory Award in his memory. He was also appointed to the Arts Commission of the City of New York.
-Abigail Hartmann Associates, 2018