Two of the most renowned equine sculptors in the US have died within two days of each other.
Marilyn Newmark Meiselman of Long Island, New York, died on March 8 of pneumonia at the age of 84, and Eclipse Award creator Adalin Wichman died on March 10 in Kentucky at the age of 91 after a brief illness.
Born in New York City, Meiselman began her sculpting career when she was a teenager, studying under the well-known horse illustrator Paul Brown, and worked with him until his death in 1958. In those years she worked in ceramic and porcelain, and today these sculptures are collectors items.
For years she showed and drove her own horses.
In 1971, she won the Anna Hyatt Huntington Award, and in 1972, her equestrian sculpture, “Hacking Home”, was selected as the Madison Square Garden trophy.
She first used the medium of bronze in 1970 and won more than 12 Gold Medals and 90 Awards at juried national and international art exhibitions.
Her models were produced as uniques, limited editions or by commission. She has done work for the Franklin Mint, New York Racing Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Professional Horsemen’s Association, Thoroughbred Breeders of Kentucky, the Japan Racing Association and many others. Her work is in the National Museum of Racing, Saratoga, New York; Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Elmont, New York; American Saddle Horse Museum and the International Museum of the Horse, both at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky.
• Adalin Wichman was largely a self-taught artist, although she did study under several well-known artists. Her work includes illustrations, portraits and animal paintings, jewelry designs (with the Lexington jeweler Walter Childress) and bronze sculptures.
She is known for her work as the advertising director for Keeneland in the 1970s and 1980s when she worked closely with Ted Bassett and the late J.B. Faulconer. In 1971, Faulconer asked her to sculpt the Eclipse Award for the Thoroughbred Racing Association (the forerunner of the NTRA). She based the sculpture on an 18th century painting of the famous race horse, Eclipse.
Her architect husband, William Wichman designed its walnut base. Wichman holds the Eclipse copyright and has produced each sculpture, working only with a few small selected American foundries with expertise in studio bronze casting by the lost wax method.
The first Eclipse awards were given in 1972; they continue to be awarded annually by the NTRA.
Her works are found in private and public collections including those of HRH Queen Elizabeth, II, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame (Saratoga, NY), Kentucky Derby Museum, Kentucky Horse Park, and the White House Historical Society (Washington, DC).
She designed and installed the Lexington Public Library’s central hall display which includes a Foucault Pendulum, the world’s largest ceiling clock, her illustrations of famous Kentucky thoroughbreds and jockeys and an award winning terrazzo floor design of North America.
She won the 2011 Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, University of Kentucky Libraries; the Governor’s Award in the Arts (The Milner Award), and the Hellenic Ideals Award. She is a featured artist in the seminal book Animal and Sporting Artists of America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr.
Known for her sense of humor, she was asked once what was the best compliment she received on the Eclipse Award to which she replied, “Someone told me, ‘I dropped it and the tail didn’t break off.’”
Her husband died in 2000, and she is survived by her daughters Adrian of Lexington, Alison of Potomac, Maryland, and sister Julia of Lexington.