Sculptor. A lifelong Philadelphian, he is remembered for portrait busts and for civic monuments featuring figural allegories. He also created a number of ideal works, sometimes employing arcane symbolism. After working as a stonecutter and assisting in carving Alexander Milne Calder's sculptural embellishments for the Philadelphia city hall, Grafly enrolled in 1882 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. There he worked with Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz before departing four years later to study in Paris. From 1892, the year after his return to Philadelphia, he taught at the academy. In 1895 he again traveled to Paris for a year, his final sojourn abroad. Subsequently, his mastery of the period's naturalistic and graceful French style assured his preeminence among Philadelphia sculptors for many years. After purchasing property in Lanesville, Massachusetts, in 1905, he became a regular participant in the summer colony that gathered on Cape Ann each year. Among his many portraits, more than a dozen likenesses of artist-friends rank among the finest in their vivacity and psychological acuity. The first, created in Paris, represents Henry O. Tanner (Metropolitan Museum, 1896) with characteristically vigorous but subtle modeling of carefully delineated features. The painter's gently bemused, transient expression gives an impression of his interior individuality. Others in the series include Thomas Anshutz (Pennsylvania Academy, 1912), Frank Duveneck (Cincinnati Art Museum, 1915), and Childe Hassam (Philadelphia Museum, 1918). Grafly's most important public sculpture, the marble Meade Memorial (in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, Washington, D.C., 1915–27), portrays the standing Civil War general before a dramatic ensemble of allegorical figures.
Subjects: Art & Architecture