PROVENANCE: Private collection, circa early 1950s By descent to the present owner, 1980s
LITERATURE: E. Murtha, Paul Manship, New York, 1957, pp. 153, 158, no. 80, another example illustrated. J. Manship, Paul Manship, New York, 1989, pp. 63-64, another example illustrated. H. Rand, Paul Manship, Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 117-118, 165, fig. 112, another example illustrated. J. Conner, J. Rosenkranz, American Sculpture: 1845-1925, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1999, pp. 32-33, 60, another example illustrated.
1912 was a pivotal year for Paul Manship. Having recently returned to the United States after a sojourn of study in Rome, the artist quickly sold out a show of ninety-six bronzes at the New York Architectural League. This shining success not only launched the artist's career but also stabilized it for the many decades to follow.
During this decade, Manship's aesthetic was heavily rooted in the antique. Notable influences of Greek and Roman mythology and the classical forms that he would have seen during his travels, reside in his body of work from this period. Art historians have speculated that Manship's Flight of Night may represent Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon, while others consider the flying figure symbolic of the passage of time.
Gloria Kittleson writes of Flight of Night, "Often considered one of Manship's most elegant works, and an early expression of his mature style, Flight of Night evokes classical Greek and East Indian sources. The allegorical figure of night floats in space over the universe, suggesting ubiquity, and her upraised arms round her head echo the globe over which she hovers. Her clearly delineated form suggests the crescent shape of the moon; the crescent moon was the ancient attribute of the virgin. Flight looks back over her shoulder, while her body moves forward with speed to make way for the oncoming day; her form is weighted toward the left, heightening the sense of movement." (Paul Manship: Changing Taste in America, p. 71)
According to Edwin Murtha, the Flight of Night was cast in an edition of twenty. Other examples of this sculpture are in the collections of The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.