From The Estate of Malvina Hoffman: Modernist Sculptures, Maquettes, Drawings, and Paintings | September 15-17, 2022

The Estate of Malvina Hoffman

Hoffmans’ story as one of the most important artists of her era began in New York. A true knickerbocker, she learned from the best – Arts Students League of New York; the Woman’s School for Applied Design; Gutzon Borglum; John White Alexander; the studio artists on McDougall Alley who mentored Hoffman and her friend, Ivan Mestrovic–but her most important influence was August Rodin. Rodin took the sculptor under his tutelage when he was in his 70’s, and worked with her until his death. He called her his “sensitive student,” and took her on as his protégé in 1910 and considered her his legacy. She helped Rodin catalog the work in his Paris studio for six weeks until WW1 broke out, and then she managed the logistics of hiding all of his work to protect it during the war. After the war and Rodin’s death, Malvina Hoffman was asked to install the first Musée Rodin in Paris. Besides Rodin, her other extraordinary collaboration was with Anna Pavlova, and this auction features a number of images of Pavlova, both sculpture and painting, from their iconic work together. At age 45 Hoffman received perhaps her most important commission – the largest bronze commission in art history – from the Field Museum in 1930. It was larger than Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Malvina Hoffman was paid more than any artist ever for the Field commission – $2.2million in today’s dollars – and she finished it on time and within budget, traveling the globe for three years undergoing the harshest conditions of travel, climate and studio. When she died in 1966 at age 81, Hoffman earned a front-page New York Times obituary as one of the most important artists of the era. Her epic life made her a household name and inspired women artists to take on the physically demanding work of sculpture. We are proud to be offering works of art from her illustrious life in a series of auctions, beginning in September.

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