Sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies was unable to attend formal art school due to his family's finances. At eighteen, however, he was able to make his way into the New York workshop of preeminent American sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens, and would eventually become his assistant. MacMonnies would soon be able to afford evening classes at the Art Students League, the Cooper Union School and even the National Academy of Design.
His work with Saint Gaudens brought him into direct contact with some of the wealthiest and most influential people of the era, and introduced him to the Beaux-Arts concepts that were prevalent within this circle.
From New York, he headed to Paris where he studied with Alexandre Falguiere, who introduced modern realism to MacMonnies' classical subjects. He then enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and in 1889 created his first notable work, "Diana", which he exhibited at the Paris Salon for that year. This success brought many commissions, and MacMonnies was soon a highly sought after sculptor, especially with the American upper class who were living through the "Gilded Age". Additionally, MacMonnies realized the commercial potential of the growing middle class and had his works mass produced in smaller and affordable formats.
MacMonnies' works could be controversial due to their depiction of the nude female form, occasionally in a pose of absolute abandon. Though he would be a huge success in America, he would live strictly in France until World War I forced him to return. Because he lived and worked during a time of incredible transition, his works fell victim to the changing styles following the War. He never strayed from his Beaux-Arts tradition, and the new modernist trends replaced him in the popular market.
His works are in dozens of major museums and collections in the United States.