Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waldine Tauch: American Sculptress

Waldine Amanda Tauch at work

The Tauch Family. Standing: Emma (left) and Waldine
Courtesy Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives
Waldine Amanda Tauch was born on January 28, 1892, in Schulenberg, Texas, the second of three children of William and Elizabeth (Heimann) Tauch. Her father, the mayor of Fayetteville, a farmer and photographer, recognized and encouraged her emerging artistic abilities by giving her photographs to draw. At age seven she began to sculpt, initially modeling in clay, and later carving soap, wood, chalk, and stone. When she was 13, while living in Brady, Texas, she carved a figure from butter for the McCulloch County Fair. Brady Tuesday Club president Maggie Miller Henderson convinced local rising sculptor Pompeo L. Coppini to take Waldine as his pupil, and in 1910, just two weeks shy of graduating from high school, she began her studies with Coppini in San Antonio. When funds for her education were exhausted, Coppini taught her without tuition and he and his wife welcomed her as a foster daughter in their home. 
Pompeo Luigi Coppini
May 19, 1870-September 26, 1957
b. Moglia, Mantua, Italy
Under the influence of Coppini, a staunch advocate of classical sculpture, Tauch developed a naturalistic style, He condemned abstract art as "an irritation to the eye and an insult to the mind!" By 1911 she had secured her first public commission, a bas-relief (low-relief sculpture) commemorating Mrs. I. J. Rice, for the Brownwood Library. More commissions followed, primarily for portrait busts. Tauch determined that she wanted to sculpt heroic public monuments and Coppini initially opposed her decision, arguing that a small woman would not have the strength to complete the larger-than-life-sized works, an issue that faces all women who sculpt large-scale works.
From 1918 to 1922 Tauch worked with Coppini in his Chicago studio, where she assisted him with various projects and completed a life-sized marble high relief commemorating her early patron, Maggie Miller Henderson (1919), which was placed over Henderson's grave in Richmond, Kentucky. Tauch returned to San Antonio for a short time but, in 1922, moved to New York to help Coppini's wife recover from an injury and to assist him in his work on the Littlefield Fountain for the University of Texas at Austin.
During the following twelve years in New York City, Tauch completed a number of major sculptures, including her first commission for a large work, the Indiana War Memorial (1926) in Bedford, Indiana. While in New York she began producing small genre figures that were reproduced for the mass market by the Gorham Company. Small statuettes such as Surfboard (ca. 1924), Gulf Breeze (1929), and Boy and Eel (1924), all of which celebrated the nude figure, revealed a more romantic, personal, vision than the sober commemorative works that occupied most of her time. 
Waldine Amanda Tauch
Turbulent Youth
Bronze Bookends
Tauch returned to San Antonio in 1935 in order to compete for commissions inspired by the Texas Centennial celebration (1936). She was awarded the commission to carve The First Shot Fired For Texas Independence (1935), a life-sized bronze bas-relief set in granite seven miles southwest of Gonzales, near the site of the battle of Gonzales. She also completed Centennial memorials to Moses Austin (1937–38) in San Antonio and Isaac and Frances C. Lipscomb Van Zandt (1938) in Canton. In 1936 Tauch and Coppini built a studio at 115 Melrose Place, San Antonio. Their sharing the costs of the studio indicated a move away from their mentor-protege's relationship to a partnership. Tauch remained in San Antonio for the rest of her career, completing works for patrons throughout Texas and in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Oklahoma. 

Waldine Amanda Tauch
Douglas MacArthur
ca. 1969
Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom
Affiliated with Howard Payne University
Her best-known works are Douglas MacArthur, an eight-foot bronze statue at Howard Payne University, Brownwood; Higher Education Reflects Responsibility to the World (1965), a heroic-sized bronze at Trinity University, San Antonio; Texas Ranger of Today (1960), an eight-foot bronze statue at the Union Terminal in Dallas; and Pippa Passes, a bronze, life-sized high relief at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

Waldine Amanda Tauch
Pippa Passes
ca 1956
Baylor University, Waco, Texas
In addition to sculpting, Tauch traveled throughout the state promoting traditional art in lectures to various clubs and organizations. In 1939 she began teaching, initially at the San Antonio Art Academy and later in her own studio. She taught at Trinity University from 1943 to 1945, when Coppini was head of the art department there. In 1945 Coppini and Tauch founded the Academy of Fine Arts, a club dedicated to traditional art styles and techniques. Members met regularly for discussion and exhibited their work in museums and galleries throughout the state. The organization was later renamed Coppini Academy of Fine Arts and was sponsored by Tauch after her mentor's death in 1957. 
Coppini Academy of Fine Arts
San Antonio, Texas
Tauch was active in a number of other organizations, including the Society of Medalists, the Southern States Art League, the Artists Professional League, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Artists and Craftsmen, the San Antonio Art League, and the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. In 1941 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree by Howard Payne College, and in 1964 she was elected a fellow of the National Sculpture Society of New York City. The Texas Senate awarded her a Recognition Certificate in 1969 for her contribution to the cultural and artistic life of Texas and the nation. In 1971 Alpha Delta Kappa, an honorary society for women educators, named Tauch Woman of Distinction. She continued to sculpt into her eighties, when her eyesight began to fail. 
Comanche Indian bas-relief figure, once a fountain
Waldine Tauch
Commerce Street Bridge, San Antonio, Texas
Waldine Tauch died in San Antonio on March 31, 1986, and was buried at Sunset Memorial Park in the plot where the Coppinis are buried. Many of her sculptures are on view at her former studio, which now houses workshops, classes, and exhibitions sponsored by the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts. Tauch, who was a fellow of both the National Sculpture society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters is also represented in many public collections, among them the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon; the MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia; the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the Witte Museum, San Antonio.

Here is a link to a video for more information on the life of Waldine Amanda Tauch. 

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, p. 298.

Texas State Historical Association, Waldine Amanda Tauch, published in partnership with University of Texas at Austin, retrieved September 19, 2017.
Pompeo Coppini, From Dawn to Sunset (San Antonio: Naylor, 1949). Coppini-Tauch Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Dallas Morning News, April 3, 1986. 
Patricia D. Hendricks and Becky D. Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas, 1889–1989 (Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, 1989). Alice Hutson, From Chalk to Bronze: A Biography of Waldine Tauch (Austin: Shoal Creek, 1978).

Vimeo, Waldine Tauch Documentary,, retrieved September 20, 2017.

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