In 2018, The Red Palm Nut, Jane Goodall and David Greybeard, a remarkable bronze sculpture by artist Marla Friedman was unveiled at the Chicago Field Museum in honor of Jane’s 84th birthday. Today, Hollis Taggart gallery is pleased to offer the limited editions of the piece in honor of Dr. Goodall’s monumental achievements. The sculpture captures the groundbreaking moment of connection between Goodall as a twenty-six-year-old researcher in Gombe, Tanzania, and David Greybeard, the first chimpanzee to grant her trust.
Of the sculpture Goodall, who is founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, has noted: “Marla has done more than just capture the likeness of me and David Greybeard, she has captured a relationship between human and animal. And I hope that this sculpture will enable more people to understand that close relationship that we have with the animals with whom we share this planet.”
Goodall has described the importance of the moment represented in the work, when after following David Greybeard, she discovered him seated on the forest floor and was able to communicate with him non-verbally. This initial breakthrough enabled the progress of her pioneering research:
“I was following him along a trail in the forest. I lost him for a moment but then found him sitting. I sat near him and lying on the ground between us was this ripe, red palm nut, which chimpanzees love. So, I picked it up and I held it towards him on the palm of my hand and he turned his face away. So, I put my hand closer and he turned and looked directly into my eyes. He reached out and he took and dropped that palm nut but then very gently squeezed my fingers and that’s how chimpanzees reassure each other. So, in that moment we understood each other without the use of human words, the language of gestures. He understood that my motive was good.”
Friedman’s sculpture conveys this moment of unity beautifully through postures and gestures. Each is seated with knees bent, head turned towards the other, and arms extended to create a perfect arc shape above the red palm nut. The bodies of Jane and David Greybeard echo each other perfectly, despite the space between them.
Such physical contact or proximity is no longer practiced or endorsed by Dr. Goodall or the Jane Goodall Institute, making the meaning and power of this magical moment all the greater. Friedman has captured the transcendent innocence of Jane’s historic, first connection with David Greybeard. It is this very moment of their empathic shared trust that would open the world of the wild chimpanzee to Jane, and the world.
Friedman embraces an intuitive creative process, working from moment to moment to harness skill and instinct in order to develop a likeness of her subjects and a strong message for the composition. She has a masterful ability to authentically reproduce the sitter’s physical form while simultaneously capturing the essence of a persona. Describing the significance of this sculpture Friedman reflected, “I hope the message of the sculpture is our empathic connection with ALL animals. The universal unspoken language. An awareness and sensitivity to the feelings of all living beings. Jane and I share this concern in our collaboration on The Red Palm Nut. The message of empathy is profound and important especially at this moment in history. Kindness begets kindness.”
The original casting of The Red Palm Nut was acquired by the Field Museum in 2018 and graces the museum’s marble entrance hall. Hollis Taggart is offering two sizes for subsequent editions. A limited bronze edition of six will be available at the monumental size of 36 x 80 x 44 inches and a limited bronze edition of 10 will be available in a smaller version measuring 12 x 27 x 14 ¾ inches. All works include Jane Goodall’s inscribed signature. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.