Frederick Ruckstull  

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"In his exhibition of drawings, held October 19, 1908, in the Galerie Devambez, in Paris, [Auguste Rodin] showed the most libidinous set of drawings ever exposed to an invited public, in which there were at least two that were frankly pornographic and for which show he was, by both French and foreign people, called "beast", "monster", "vulgar charlatan", "sadist." etc." --Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great (1925), Frederick Ruckstull

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Frederick Wellington Ruckstull (May 22, 1853 - May 26, 1942) was a French-born American sculptor and art critic.

Life and career

Born Ruckstuhl in Breitenbach, Alsace, France, his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1855. He worked at a variety of unsatisfying jobs until his early twenties when an art exhibition in St. Louis inspired him to become a sculptor. He studied art locally, visited Paris and then worked for years as a toy store clerk to save enough to study in Paris for three years. In 1885, Ruckstull entered the Académie Julian, and studied under Gustave Boulanger, Camille Lefèvre, Jean Dampt and Antonin Mercié. He considered studying with Auguste Rodin, but claimed to be disgusted with his style.

On returning to U.S. in 1892, Ruckstull opened a studio in New York City. His work Evening won the grand medal for sculpture at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. As a result of this national exposure, he was commissioned to make an equestrian statue of Major-General John F. Hartranft for the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Ruckstull was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society as well as the editor of the magazine Art World. In 1925 he wrote the book Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great, a collection of essays he had published previously, which has recently been reprinted. His sculpture was in the figurative Beaux-Arts style, with its realism, and detailed modeling. He and other prominent sculptors of the era such as Daniel Chester French championed the French style of studio system teaching, art societies, and exhibitions. Following the Armory Show of 1913, he continued to represent the old guard of academic sculpture, a perspective clearly expressed in his book.

Ruckstull married in 1896 and had one son. He died in New York at the age of 89 and was cremated.





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