Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Frederick Ruckstull

Wisdom, N.Y.C. Appellate Courthouse ©2004 Jana Schickling
Frederick Wellington Ruckstull (May 22, 1853-May 26,1942) French-born American sculptor and art critic. Born Ruckstuhl in Breitenbach, Alsace, France, his family moved to Saint Louis, Missouri in 1855. He worked at a variety of unsatisfying jobs until his early twenties when an art exhibition in St. Louis inspired him to become a sculptor. He studied art locally, visited Paris and then worked for years as a toy store clerk to save enough to study in Paris for three years.

In 1885, Ruckstull entered the Académie Julian, and studied under Gustave Boulanger, Camille Lefèvre, Jean Dampt and Antoine Mercié. He considered studying with Auguste Rodin, but claimed to be disgusted with his style.

On returning to America in 1892, he opened a studio in New York City. His work Evening won the grand medal for sculpture at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Due to his national eposure at the Exposition, he was commissioned to make an equestrian statue of Major-General John F. Hartranft for the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Ruckstull was a founder of the National Sculpture Society. Editor of the magazine Art World. In 1925 wrote the book The Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great [ISBN 0766171086], which is still in print.

His sculpture was in the figurative Beaux-Arts style, with its realism, and detailed modelling. He and other prominent sculptors of the era such as Daniel Chester French championed the French style of studio system teaching, art societies, and exhibitions.

He married in 1896 and had one son. Following the Armory Show of 1914, he continued to represent the old guard of academic sculpture. He died in New York at the age of 89 and was cremated.