Historic, but not famous

Malvina Cornell Hoffman, sculptor

By Malvina Hoffman - Detroit Institute of Arts, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55623423Malvina Cornell Hoffman (June 15, 1885 – July 10, 1966) was an American sculptor and author, well known for her life-size bronze sculptures of people. She also worked in plaster and marble. Hoffman created portrait busts of working-class people and significant individuals. She was particularly known for her sculptures of dancers, such as Anna Pavlova. She often cast her own work and wrote a book “Sculpture Inside and Out” on the technique of casting in bronze.

She was born in NYC and named after an aunt who survived the sinking of the Titanic. Ms. Hoffman studied under many painters and sculptures and even traveled to Europe for her work. She was inspired by ballet dancers and the movement. Eventually she worked and studied with Rodin. She worked on many sculptures found in the United States and Europe. Hoffman was commissioned by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, to create anthropologically accurate sculptures of peoples of diverse nationalities and races. She traveled around the world — including distant places like Africa, India, and Bali — in 1931 to 1932, creating busts and figures of people and taking more than 2,000 photographs. She completed more than 105 sculptures, predominantly in bronze, but also in marble and stone. The installation was on display from 1933 – 1969. Some still remain in the museum.

Ms. Hoffman worked out of a studio in Sniffen Court in Manhattan until her death in 1966. The Sniffen Court Historic District, located off of East 36th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was created in 1966, and consists of 10 two-story brick stables built in 1863-1864 in the early Romanesque Revival style, which were converted into residences and studios in the 1920s.

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