Satyr’s Daughters by Judy Fox

(Last Updated On June 13, 2021)

Satyr’s Daughters is a group of five painted ceramic sculptures by Judy Fox. The artist was born in New Jersey in 1957, and currently lives in New York. She is most famous for her life-size realistic terra-cotta nudes of women and children. Satyr’s Daughters was created in 1999 and originally displayed in the PPOW Gallery in New York City. The display included four statues of girls, each about seven years old (the daughters), and one adult man (the satyr). The four girls were displayed on high pedestals on one side of the room; they were meant to be viewed from below. The Satyr was on the other side of the room on a low platform, and was looking at the daughters. Although they were displayed in one group, each of the five statues was sold individually. Since Pigtails is about girls, this post will concentrate on the daughters.

Judy Fox – Satyr’s Daughters (1999)

The four daughters represent four different geographical areas: India, Africa, China, and Europe. Fox said that she chose models at an age when they were becoming conscious of their beauty, but were still innocent of its sexual implications. Fox considers herself to be a feminist, and strives for her art to reflect that.

Lakshmi represents India. Lakshmi is the name of a Hindu goddess, but the Lakshmi of Satyr’s Daughters has an appearance different from traditional portrayals of the divinity. Hindus worship Lakshmi as the goddess of wealth, love, beauty, joy and prosperity. Lakshmi is conventionally depicted as an adult woman with four arms, as in the painting by Raja Ravi Varma. However, Lakshmi was incarnate on Earth as Sita and as Rukmini, so it may not be entirely contrary to Hindu doctrine to portray her as a young girl. At least, I have not read of any Hindus objecting to the Lakshmi statue in Satyr’s Daughters.

Judy Fox – Lakshmi (1999)

Ravi Varma -Goddess Lakshmi (1848 – 1906)

Africa is represented by Onile. Onile is the Earth and metalworking goddess of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. She is often portrayed in abstract bronze statuettes in a pose similar to the Onile of Judy Fox. Although Onile is divine, I have not read of any Yoruba complaining of the Onile in Satyr’s Daughters as sacrilege.

Judy Fox – Onile (1999)

Judy Fox – Onile (1999)

Unknown Nigerian Artist – Onile Yoruba Figurine (20th century)

Court Lady is the daughter for China. This statue is reminiscent of Tang Dynasty figurines of Chinese ladies. Court Lady replicates the posture and hair of the figurines, but with a nude child instead of a clothed adult. Photographs of live models were used to make the Satyr’s Daughters statues. Judy Fox lives and works in New York City, and it seems likely that her models were all from that area. Fox included details in the hair, posture, and titles of the sculptures to indicate that the girls represent different parts of the world and different cultures; not merely New York girls who happen to be of different ethnic backgrounds.

Judy Fox – Court Lady (1999)

Judy Fox – Court Lady (1999)

Anonymous – Tang Dynasty Figurine (618 – 906)

Rapunzel is Europe’s daughter. It is a good choice, I think, to use a fairy tale character from Grimm to represent Europe. The Grimm brothers collected their folk tales in 19th century Germany, but the tales are common in all European countries and are centuries old. Rapunzel is probably the best of Grimm’s Tales for the Satyr’s Daughters series because of her long hair. Since the figures are nude, the hair is one of the details necessary to give each daughter her individuality.

Judy Fox – Rapunzel (1999)

Judy Fox – Rapunzel (1999)

Controversy could potentially arise from the fact that real girls modeled for Satyr’s Daughters, and realistic nude statues of the girls were put on public display. If anything was done to make the models unrecognizable from the statues, it was not mentioned in any review that I read. Yet despite the fact that the girls were originally displayed with a satyr, and satyrs are by definition lascivious, I have not read of any objections in this regard to Satyr’s Daughters.

2 thoughts on “Satyr’s Daughters by Judy Fox

  1. Thanks for this interesting post Moko and for sharing with us this artwork. It kinda reminds me the engraving “Europe Supported by Africa and America” by William Blake. This is how it is described in the wikipedia page on Blake:

    >> “Europe Supported by Africa and America” is an engraving by Blake held in the collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art. The engraving was for a book written by Blake’s friend John Gabriel Stedman called “The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam” (1796). It depicts three attractive women embracing one another. Black Africa and White Europe hold hands in a gesture of equality, as the barren earth blooms beneath their feet. Europe wears a string of pearls, while her sisters Africa and America, wearing slave bracelets, are depicted as “contented slaves”. Some scholars have speculated that the bracelets represent the historical fact while the handclasp – Stedman’s “ardent wish”: “we only differ in color, but are certainly all created by the same Hand.” Others have said it “expresses the climate of opinion in which the questions of color and slavery were, at that time, being considered, and which Blake’s writings reflect”. <<

    https://brockuhistory.ca/ebooks/hist2f90/media/Blake%20Europe%20Supported.jpg

    The context and meaning of "Satyr’s Daughters" is of course different, but the depiction of nude female figures representing different ethnic groups embrace both concepts in common.

  2. Perhaps it should be mentioned that the unidentified 1978 Rapunzel postage stamp is from the old East Germany.
    DDR stands for the German phrase for German Democratic Republic.

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