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Amory Coffin Simons
Amory Coffin Simons was born on April 5, 1866 in Aiken, South Carolina, one of eight children, to John and Mary Hume Simons.
Simons is notable as one of the few remowned sculptors of his era to hail from the state. He received his primary education in Charleston before studying life modeling at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with John J. Boyle, Charles Grafly, and Thomas Eakins in 1894; and the Academie Julian, Paris with Denys Puech and Jean-Auguste Dampt, circa 1897. He also studied privately with Emmanuel Fremiet and Paul Barlett, who had significant influence on his approach to animal sculpture and architectural sculpture, respectively. It was from Bartlett that Simons learned lost-wax bronze casting; he is known to have cast a number of his own sculptures in the early 1920s. Bartlett also provided Simons with an introduction to Rodin who critiqued some of his work.
Simons' early work of the 1890s were mainly on the subject of the human figure, later branching out to portrait busts and bas-reliefs. However, he became best known for his animal sculptures in bronze, characterized by a high level of anatomical detail. This reputation brought a 1920s commission from the Museum of Natural History, New York for an elaborate series on equine evolution. Overall, his equine works received a high level of praise, with sculptures featuring horses winning honorable mention at the 1900 Salon of the Societe des Artistes Francais and 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, a silver medal at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and the Ellin P. Speyer Memorial Prize at the 1922 National Academy of Design annual exhibition.
Simons lived primarily in Paris before returning to New York at the outbreak of World War I in 1914. In Paris, he fostered a friendship with fellow sculptor Chester Beach, assisting him in his sculpture. Also, while in Paris, Simons met William "Buffalo Bill" Cody when Cody brought his Wild West Show to Europe. Simons modeled a statuette from life of the cowboy astride a favorite horse.
From his New York studio, Simons continued to create equine works, including a series on New York City Police horses, the dwindling ranks of the New York City Fire Department horses, and a number of portraits of horse-mounted men and women. In 1924, his work was included in a major exhibition of American art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, boasting an entire gallery dedicated to a collection of his sculptures. His work was also exhibited reguarly at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the National Academy of Design.
After a brief return to France in 1924, Simons settled in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was commissioned by his DuPont family relations to create portrait busts and a series of dog and thoroughbred horse statuettes (1935 - 1945).
Simons moved to California in the late 1920s, living in Hollywood and then Santa Barbara, where he taught at the Santa Barbara School of the Arts from circa 1940 until his death in 1959.