Mahonri Young: His Life and Art; A Song of Joys: The Biography of Mahonri Mackintosh Young – Sculptor, Painter, Etcher

THOMAS E. TOONE. Mahonri Young: His Life and Art. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997.

NORMA S. DAVIS. A Song of Joys: The Biography of Mahonri Mackintosh Young–Sculptur, Painter, Etcher. Provo, Utah: M. Seth and Maurine D. Horne Center for the Study of Art, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1999.

Suppose the moderator of a popular quiz show were to ask the identity of the following person: He visited the studios of both Rodin and Maillol and watched them work. He was hailed from across the lobby of the Cirque de Paris by Ernest Hemingway, joined a club that boasted Theodore Roosevelt as a member, and was driven to Jack Sharkey’s training camp by Jack Dempsey. He often had lunch with Thornton Wilder and was a close friend of Leo Stein and his sister Gertrude. He was delighted when Charles Morgan II, president of Amherst, wrote that Robert Frost and Morgan were interested in exhibiting his work at the college. He taught a number of the nation’s finest young art students, was well acquainted with most of The Eight (America’s leading twentieth-century realist painters) and married the daughter of one of the best American impressionists. It is unlikely that these or additional equally impressive clues would lead many to the correct answer: Mahonri Mackintosh Young, the Salt Lake City-born sculptor and painter and grandson of Brigham Young.

Such is the fate of this artist who though hailed as one of America’s leading sculptors during his lifetime, is known today primarily by a few specialists and by a small number of Utahns who recognize him as the sculptor of the Brigham Young statues at the nation’s capitol and Brigham Young University or as the designer and sculptor of the This Is the Place monument in Salt Lake City. But things are changing for the reputation of Mahonri Young. After years of consignment to brief mention, footnotes, and unpublished academic papers, he has recently become the subject of two thoroughly illustrated books that are certain to make a much larger audience aware of his multiple artistic contributions. The earlier of these books (published in 1997) is by Thomas E. Toone, a professor of art history at Utah State University, and is based on his 1982 doctoral dissertation at Pennsylvania State University. Norma S. Davis, the author of the more recent volume (published in 1999) is an emeritus professor of humanities at Brigham Young University and the biographer of the American painter Florence Kate Upton.

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