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Limestone Sculpture depicting the conjoined busts of a man and woman, attributed to Thomas Puryear Mims (American/Tennessee, 1906-1975). 11 1/2″ H x 10 1/2″ W x 4 1/2″ D. Biography: Born into a distinguished Southern literary family, Puryear Mims earned an English degree from Vanderbilt University and taught the subject for a brief period. His fascination with sculpture eventually led him to study at the Academie Julian in Paris and the Art Students League in New York, where he trained under two of America’s pioneer abstractionists, Robert Laurent and William Zorach. He also worked in the studio of the sculptor Saul Baizerman in New York. In 1934 he worked on the Mount Rushmore project as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum, but found it to be more “mechanical” than artistic. He returned to the Art Students League and eventually, to Nashville. Mims taught art at Vanderbilt University and in 1958 was appointed Sculptor in Residence. He created numerous public sculptures around Nashville, participated in several one-man and multi-artist exhibits, and, following his death, was the subject of a retrospective at Cheekwood. While Mims’s early work was largely representational, he was influenced by cubism in the late 1950s and evolved into an abstract, organic, curvilinear style of sculpture. Women as voluptuous, creative beings, in particular Eve and Athena, were frequent subjects in the 1960s. Mims retired from Vanderbilt in 1972 and taught privately until his death three years later. (Source: “Thomas Puryear Mims” by Philancy Holder, published by Tennessee Botanical Gardens & Fine Arts Center, Inc., Cheekwood, Nashville, Tn., 1977). Note: Mims’s work is sometimes compared with that of another prominent Nashville sculptor working around the same time, William Edmondson. Works by the two artists were displayed together in a 1988 exhibition at the Nashville Metropolitan Arts Commission Gallery, “Spirit and Form: the Art of William Edmondson and Puryear Mims.