Modeled in 1917, Yawning Tiger was an early success for American artist Anna Vaughn Hyatt and became one of her most popular sculptures. Unlike many of her contemporaries who often depicted predators engaged highly active hunting scenes, Hyatt chose to portray the predator at rest, dynamically stretching one paw forward and arching its tail as it throws its head back for a wide yawn. Hyatt captured expressive and naturalistic details of the animal, from the textured fur and stripes to its extended claws.
This example, in rich brown patina, is the smaller of the two sizes cast by Gorham Manufacturing Company.
Yawning Tiger’s immense popularity is evidenced by a photographic illustration accompanying a lengthy description in Gorham’s historic 1928 publication, “Famous Small Bronzes”:
"Mrs. Huntington's predilection for the sculpture of animals is happily exemplified by her 'Yawning Tiger,' in which every muscle and tendon takes part in the magnificent stretch, from curved tail to extended paw. The technique is notably simple in line and the composition of the figure is in itself a study in strength." (The Gorham Company, Famous Small Bronzes, New York, 1928, p. 14)
From a young age, Hyatt’s interest in animals was fostered by her parents - her father was a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard University. Most of her training was informal; she spent time in the ateliers of some of the 20th century's most renowned sculptors (including Gutzon Borglum, of Mount Rushmore fame) in addition hours on her own at the Bronx Zoo where she created sketches and studies from exotic animals in the flesh. She became one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century, earning commissions for important historic monuments around the country and her native New York City, in addition to widely exhibiting and earning various awards. She was known in particular for her animalier work.
Bronze with granite base
Height: 5 inches (12.7 cm)
Width: 15 ½ inches (39.4 cm)
Depth: 4 ½ inches (11.4 cm)
"Bronze Division Papers: Casting Records of Statuary and Small Bronzes Owned by Gorham, Q Numbers Assigned to Bronzes, 1905-1970 manufacturer's catalog, 1917, pg. 27, no. Q492.
"Famous Small Bronzes," manufacturer's exhibition catalog, 1928, pp. 14-15