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by Edward Russell Thaxter (American, 1857-1881)


This captivating Carrara marble piece, a creation by Edward Russell Thaxter (born Yarmouth, Maine 1857 - passed away in Naples, Italy 1881), depicts a poignant scene. In it, a young girl sternly admonishes her cat for attacking a bird's nest. Her disapproving gaze and the gesture of holding the cat close convey a sense of discipline. At her feet rests a lifeless bird, a consequence of the cat's actions. This powerful scene serves as a foreshadowing of the responsibilities of future motherhood. The girl's current act of reprimand hints at her future role in ensuring the good behavior of her own children.

Italy, Circa 1878

Signed: E. R. Thaxter

Height with pedestal: 76"  (193 cm)
Height of sculpture: 40"   (101 cm)

Another example of this marble figure is in the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington DC.

Artist Biography

Edward Russell Thaxter was only twenty-four years old when he died, but in his brief career as a sculptor he garnered praise for his work and was deemed an artist with a promising future. Born in Yarmouth, Maine, he is believed to have chosen to study sculpture after seeing the work of John Rogers. At the age of sixteen, Thaxter moved to Boston and studied with the portrait sculptor John D. Perry.

In 1878 Thaxter left for Florence, Italy, where he took a studio and began to create the neoclassical works that won him critical attention. In 1881 he contracted typhoid fever, which left him in a weakened condition, and within the year the young sculptor died in Naples. Thaxter's untimely death was noted with genuine regret in the American press. The critic James Jackson Jarves, writing in the New York Times in August 1881, called it "a severe loss to the young school of American sculpture."