Thursday, May 7, 2009

Harriet W. Frishmuth and Model Desha Delteil

Roses of Yesterday by Harriet Frishmuth, Desha Delteil was the model.

Playdays by Harriet Frishmuth

Play Days
Location: Marjorie McNeely Conservatory Sunken Garden
Artist: Harriet W. Frishmuth

Joy of the Waters by Harriet Frishmuth

Bubble Dance by Harriet Frishmuth

Statue "Roses of Yesterday." By Harriet W. Frishmuth in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Noted from George Eastman House Photography Collection:
Desha Delteil, dancer
American (born Yugoslavia ca 1890s -d. 1980)
Desha Delteil was a student of Michel Fokine and first dancer in his company. Together with Jean Myrio and Barte, her dance interpretation of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at the Kit Kat Cabaret in London has been recorded in a Pathe motion picture review. Also known for her bubble dance. Married Mario Delteil.
Desha was paid to pose in 1916 for sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American 1880-1979) who completed a bronze sculpture titled Desha in 1927. Desha was also the model for Frishmuth's Roses of Yesterday copyrighted in 1923. The prices4art database describes the relationship as follows:
"In 1916, Frishmuth hired the Yugoslavian ballet dancer Desha Delteil to model, first for Frishmuth's studio art classes and then for her own work. Frishmuth preferred to use dancers rather than models for her work because of their flexibility and strength which was necessary for holding poses for long periods of time."

Auction noted from the Maine Antique Digest:

There was also a record price paid for a work by sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth. Roses of Yesterday, a 65" tall bronze cast by Gorham, sold for $632,000 (est. $300,000/ 500,000). The catalog noted that Frishmuth wrote that it was her "best sundial, originally designed in 1923 as a memorial to Mr. Walden, great lover of children and flowers, the gnomon on the dial is a butterfly symbolizing the fleeting hours." It is one of an edition of five or six. The previous record for Frishmuth was $580,000 for a probably unique bronze figure of a woman, Bubble Dance, 90" tall, also cast by Gorham, that sold at Sotheby's in May 1999.

Notes from

In 1916, Desha was hired to pose for sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth and modeled for several of Frishmth's female bronzes, one of which Frishmuth entitled "Desha". She became Frishmuth's favorite model, posing not only for a number of her best pieces but also for her studio art classes. She is known to have posed for "The Vine" and "Roses of Yesterday", and is presumed to have posed for "The Hunt" based on similarities of form and figure. Delteil modeled for other artists as well, being highly valued for her ability to hold difficult poses for extended periods.

Movies she was in from

Clip from Glorifying the American Girl on might be Desha Delteil with the bubble at the very end.

Newsreel about the movie. Another Youtube clip.

Glorifying the American Girl at

Description of "The Star" by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth is in HGAD Decorative Arts Auction Catalog #650 "Frishmuth's second largest edition, marks the beginning of a decade long relationship between the dancer Desha Delteil and Frishmuth."

Captured Motion: The Sculpture of Harriet Whitney Frishmuth

Humoresque by Harriet W. Frishmuth at the Arkell Museum, Canajoharie

Flickr results for Harriet W. Frishmuth.

Flickr results for Desha Delteil.

Wikipedia link to Glorifying the American Girl.

Divers recover Grosse Pointe statue stolen 8 years ago - News article about a statue by Harriet W. Frishmuth which was stolen and recovered.

Playdays by Harriet Frishmuth sold at auction by the Heritage Auction Galleries.

A catalog of sculptures by Harriet Frishmuth at Heritage Auctions.

Poser: a sketchbook of ideas for artists and models

These last images are from Ben Pinchot's book Female Form Instruction in Art. The book is available at under the title Drawing the Female Form.

Drawing the Female Form

Drawing the Female Form

Original 1935 hardcover editions of Female Form are available at

FEMALE FORM. With Analytical Drawings by George B. Bridgman

Nicholas Muray - Desha Delteil

Nicholas Muray - Desha Delteil


  1. Desha was such a real beauty. It was great that Frishmuth used her as a model.

  2. There is another story about Desha (in France, Dasha or Dacha) and her husband Jean Myrio Delteil. In 1940, both were working in the Casino de Paris with Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier when the german troops invaded France.
    Jean had a small house in the french Dordogne where all were hidden during the first months of WW II.

  3. Thank you for that interesting story.


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