Full Name Mahonri Mackintosh Young
Born 9 August 1877 in Salt Lake City, Utah
Died 2 November 1957 in Norwalk, Connecticut
Buried Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah
Elected 1 December 1917 at age forty
Archivist’s Note: Son-in-law of Julian Alden Weir (his seconder); father of Mahonri Sharp Young; grandson of (nonmember) Brigham Young
Mahonri Young was born in Salt Lake City in 1877, a grandson of Brigham Young and considerably the most distinguished descendant the great Mormon leader has had so far. He started modeling in native adobe; but in 1897 he met the sculptor, Cyrus Dalling, who came to Salt Lake; and after that he came east and enrolled in the Art Students League in New York. Then, after a year, he was off to Paris, where he studied at the Julien, Calarossi, and Delachuse Academies.
He had an amazing facility with pen and pencil and was fully as talented as an etcher and a painter as he was as a sculptor; but it was as a sculptor that he became famous and will go down to posterity. Much of his work was devoted to frontier subjects. He did the bronze monument, Sea Gull, in Salt Lake City erected by the Mormons in memory of the “Miracle of the Gulls” when the birds flew in from the faraway Pacific to devour the swarms of locusts that were destroying Mormon crops. He also did the great sculpture, sixty feet high, that stands at the mouth of Emigration Canyon on the spot where Brigham Young, arms outstretched toward Salt Lake Valley, announced to his followers: “This is the place.”
Mahonri regarded himself and his grandfather with kindly humor. “I am descended from a Sultan and Pope,” he used to say; but he would not talk very much about the Mormons—except that he obviously admired them. He also took abiding interest in the Art Students League, and remarked that he was himself the only man he knew “to teach everything at the League.” Indeed, he taught print-making, painting, sculpture, and illustration on and off from 1916 to 1943.
His last one-man show, a cross section of all his talents, was in 1948 at the Century. It was evident that he had built an enduring record as indestructibly documented on paper as in imperishable bronze. The vigor and vitality of his figures in action—Indians, prize fighters, pioneers—are terrific. For the wine festival at the Club in 1956, he painted a mural of oxen pulling a wain through vineyards with workers loading grapes: a beautiful picture, which the old man did right in the gallery in some four hours.
He was at the Club a great deal—especially in the last decade, after his wife died. Like all old Club members, he was dead set against any change or “improvement,” and sometimes he was rather difficult to satisfy. But he was pleasant and friendly to talk with about less controversial subjects, and his comments were pithy, and relevant, and amusing. His background was different from that of most of us dwellers on the Atlantic Seaboard, and his ideas had a provocative quality that was stimulating and exciting. He brought lustre to the Club when he was in his prime, and in his old age it supported and comforted him.
George W. Martin
1958 Century Association Yearbook