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Rear view of "Memorial to Norwegian Emigrants" (Leaping Gazelle)

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Rear view of "Memorial to Norwegian Emigrants" (Leaping Gazelle)


Animal sculpture--20th century.
Bronze sculpture, American--20th century.
Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998
Outdoor sculpture--Norway.
Public sculpture—Norway.


In 1936, Marshall Fredericks entered a national competition to design a memorial honoring Levi L. Barbour for Belle Isle, an island park in Detroit, Michigan. Barbour, a prominent lawyer who had been instrumental in the purchase of the island as a public park, bequeathed $20,000 to the city for the purpose of erecting some permanent structure on Belle Isle as a “continual hint to [his] fellow citizens to devote themselves to the benefit and pleasure of the public.”

Open to all Detroit-area sculptors with approved credentials and others with a national reputation, the competition received entries from twenty-six sculptors. Chosen by a unanimous vote, Fredericks’ winning model featured a wounded or leaping antelope which “attempt[ed] to show the beauty in the excitement, or even death, of nature,” according to the artist. Fredericks surrounded the central figure with four smaller figures: a weasel, hawk, squirrel and pheasant, all native to Belle Isle and representing both the predatory and non-predatory aspects of nature.

Located in Belle Isle’s Rose Garden, the sculpture stands sixteen feet tall atop a granite pedestal. In its final form, Fredericks altered his original concept but the overall intent remained the same. Instead of an antelope, a wheeling bronze gazelle is the focal point of the fountain and the four smaller figures on the granite basin depict a hawk, grouse, rabbit and otter, representations of the island’s indigenous animals. At the memorial’s dedication in 1937, Fredericks said the fountain “is meant to express beauty in nature and its creation.”

Considered by Fredericks to be his “first break,” the Belle Isle Competition garnered Fredericks a great deal of national attention and increased his public notoriety. With castings found throughout the United States and Europe, the Leaping Gazelle remains one of Fredericks’ most popular sculptures.

“Memorial to Norwegian Emigrants” (a full-scale casting of “Leaping Gazelle”) was dedicated in 1958 in Stavanger, Norway. Fredericks donated the sculpture as a symbol of friendship between the United States and Norway and presented it to King Olav V. The work commemorates the men and women of Norwegian blood who have contributed to the building of America.


Marshall M. Fredericks Papers
Series V, Box 16 Folder 22




Use of this image requires permission from the Marshall M. Fredericks Archives.










Stavanger (Norway)

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Color print

Physical Dimensions

3.5" x 5"

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