History's Women: Misc. Articles: Harriet G. Hosmer, American SculptorHarriet G. Hosmer
American Sculptor
1830 – 1908 A.D.

The woman has honored both her native land and her sex by her brilliant work. She proved that Americans can be sculptors, and that a woman can handle a chisel as well as a palette and brush.

Her birthplace was Watertown, Mass. Her mother and older sister had died of consumption and her father, an eminent physician, encouraged her to spend much time in the open air. Studies were of secondary importance. She soon had a taste for hunting, fishing, rowing, horseback riding, and became an all around athlete. In the fields and forests she began to model dogs, horses, and other animals in a clay pit near her home.

Her physical strength enabled her afterward to wield the four pound mallet for eight or ten hours per day in giving life to form marble.

Her school days in Lenox, Mass., were not marked by scholarship or attention to the routine of school life. Nature was her school and teacher. She was despair of those who were appointed her instructors. Finding that sculpture was her forte she went to St. Louis to study anatomy, as she could not gain admission to conservative medical schools of the East.

Next she went to Rome and became the pupil of the famous sculptor, Gibson. For her work, The Sleeping Fawn, She received $5,000. Zenobia in Chains was one of her masterpieces. The proud but captive queen of Palmyra is shown as she was forced to march in the triumphal procession of the Roman conquerors. “She is a queen in spirit, undethroned [sic] by calamity.”

The bronze statute of Col. Thomas H. Benton in St. Louis is a specimen of her work. In accepting the invitation to prepare the statue, she said, among other things, “But I have also reason to be grateful to you because I am a woman; and knowing what barriers must in the outset oppose all womanly efforts, I am indebted to the chivalry of the West, which has first overleaped [sic] them.”


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.

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