In the center of the King’s Garden rests the bronze sculpture, The Young Diana, that depicts Roman mythology’s goddess of the hunt. Displayed on a pedestal in the reflecting pool, the statue is located on a cross-axis and serves as a focal point when viewed from the garden entrances. It was a gift from museum founder Stephen Pell’s cousin, Anna Hyatt Huntington, one of the foremost American sculptors of her time and one of the first women to achieve recognition in the medium. Originally commissioned in 1923 by north Boston socialite Mrs. John Hays Hammond as a fountain for her summer estate, The Young Diana at the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga is one of six versions of this sculpture, five of which are on display to the public.
The sculptor and her philanthropist husband, Archer Milton Huntington, were staunch supporters of the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga beginning in 1928. Archer was named a Patron of the museum, then its highest form of recognition to donors. A month after the couple visited in 1937 to observe the progress made in the Fort’s reconstruction, The Young Diana arrived in a crate much to delight of Stephen Pell. His granddaughter recounted that he later said “How would you feel if you were expecting Mae West and got Shirley Temple taking a bath?” The statue is a lithe, adolescent Diana with short cropped hair blown forward around her face. Pell admitted that it was exactly right for the garden.
At the same time, the artist had begun offering her sculpture to schools, colleges, museums, and garden parks. More than 200 institutions throughout the world proved willing recipients. The Huntingtons also established the largest outdoor sculpture garden in the United States on a 6,000-acre estate near Myrtle Beach, S.C., known as Brookgreen Gardens. Anna Hyatt Huntington is best known for her animal and equestrian figures, and was an expert horsewoman. She was the only female artist at that time to be awarded membership to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the U.S.
Her interpretation of Diana displayed here includes a base made up of three twisted dolphins holding a shell, with the goddess perched atop, having released her arrow to the sky. It weighs over 1000 pounds and contains internal piping, which is consistent with its original design for use as a fountain. The statue was repaired and restored, then reinstalled during the major restoration period of the King’s Garden which took place between 1995 and 2001.
By Heidi teRiele Karkoski
Curator of Landscape