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Harriet G. Hosmer.

Rev. R. B. Thurston.
The number of women who have acquired celebrity in the art of painting is large; but half a score would probably include all the names of those who have achieved greatness in sculpture. Without raising the question whether women are intellectually the equals of men, or the other question, which some affirm and some deny, whether there is “sex of the soul,” they differ; and there are manifest reasons of the hand, the eye, and the taste, for which it should be anticipated that they would generally neglect the one department of aesthetic pursuits, and cultivate the other with distinguished success. The palette, the pencil, and colors fall naturally to their hands; but mallets and chisels are weighty and painful implements, and masses of wet clay, blocks of marble, and castings of bronze are rude and intractable materials for feminine labors. Sculpture has special hindrances for woman,--though not for any lack of power in her conception and invention, yet in the manual difficulties of the art itself. But genius and earnestness overcome all obstacles, and supply untiring strength; and the world give honorable recognition to those women who have, with a spirit of vigor and heroism, challenged a place by the side of their brothers as statuaries, and have with real success brought out the form of beauty and the expression of life and passion which sleep in the shapeless and silent stone. [567]

One of the most remarkable examples is found in the subject of the following sketch. The materials from which it is composed are derived from much correspondence, for which we are under special obligations to Wayman Crow, Esq., of St. Louis, the early friend of the artist, and to Dr. Alfred Hosmer, her kinsman, now of Watertown, Mass.; from notices and descriptions of her works in various periodicals, and from narratives published several years ago by Mrs. L. Maria Child, in a Western magazine, and Mrs. Ellet, in her volume of the “Artist women of all ages and countries.” The latter gives a consistent portraiture of Miss Hosmer, but has been led into inaccuracies in regard to several of the alleged facts. The notice of Tuckerman, in his book of “American artist life,” is quite too meagre to be just and valuable. Mrs. Child, who was a family friend, and at one time nearest neighbor of Dr. Hosmer, and who wrote in his house, furnished a very pleasing and reliable sketch. Great care has been taken to preserve in these pages everything which is valuable, and to exclude whatever is not authentic.

Harriet G. Hosmer was born in Watertown, Mass., October 9, 1830. Undoubtedly she was endowed with rare genius by nature; and the incidents of her early life evidently conduced much to its development in her chosen pursuit, and to the bold and unique traits of character for which she if distinguished.

Her father was an eminent physician, whose wife and elder daughter died of consumption while she was yet a child,leaving her the only domestic solace of his afflictions, and hope of his heart: She inherited a delicate constitution, and, as if he saw the same spectral hand which had desolated his home reaching out for her, he made the preservation of her health the first consideration in his system of juvenile training. It was a maxim with him, “There is a whole lifetime for the education of the mind; but the body develops in a few years, [568] and, during that time, nothing should be allowed to interfere with its free and healthy growth.”

In her early childhood Harriet was much abroad, usually accompanied by a little dog, which she tricked out with gay ribbons and small, tinkling bells; while her fearless ways and bright, pleasant features often drew the attention of strangers. Dr. Hosmer's house stood near the bank of the Charles River, and her youth was inured to skating, rowing, and swimming, as well as archery, shooting, and riding. Horse, boat, and weapons were supplied, and diligently she improved them. She became remarkable for dashing boldness, skill, and grace. She could tramp with a hunter, manage her steed like an Arabian, rival the most fearless in the chase, and the best marksmen with gun and pistol, and astonish and alarm her friends by her feats upon and in the water, as agile and varied as those of a sea-nymph.

Machinery very early excited her interest. Her questions elicited information, and her ingenuity appeared in little contrivances for her own amusement. A clay-pit near home afforded materials, and there she spent many hours in modelling horses, dogs, and other objects which attracted her attention.

The fruits of her tastes and her prowess gradually found their place in the house. Her own room became a cabinet of natural history, and the curious works of her youthful genius. Game, furred and feathered, which her gun had brought down, dissected and stuffed by her own hands, butterflies and beetles in glass cases, and reptiles preserved in spirits covered the walls. An inkstand was made of a sea gull's egg and the body of a kingfisher. Among her trophies a crow's nest, which she climbed a lofty tree to obtain during her school-lays at Lenox, rested, after she had gained fawm. in Italy, on the stand which she had made for it.

While she was thus securing physical health and power of endurance, her mind was growing as well; but not without [569] certain incidental disadvantages from the free, wild, and even rude manner of its development. Books did not suit her active temperament and her taste for concrete things. Of education and culture in the sense of the schools, during the years of, childhood, she had little. In this respect she resembles Rosa Bonheur, who found her early education chiefly in the lessons of nature learned out of doors. Her sports and the prophetic labors of the clay-pit beguiled many of the hours of study; and, very naturally, through her unrestrained liberty and occupations usually regarded as suitable only for boys, she acquired much of the character and manners of a brave, roguish boy. She was an intractable pupil, and if the report is correct was “expelled from one school, and given over as incorrigible at another.” Nevertheless it is said, “Those who knew her well loved her dearly,” and defended her from criticism with the testimony, “There is never any immodesty in her fearlessness, nor any malice in her fun.” Yet at this period she was a mystery to her friends. There is good testimony at hand that “her own father confessed again and again his ignorance” of her.

It is little matter, so long as there is no moral damage, when outrage is done to mere conventionalities; and great gain to health, enjoyment, enterprise, and genius may well raise inquiry whether a public sentiment in regard to the education of girls has not prevailed quite too much to the effect that they should be

Ground down enough
To flatten and bake into a wholesome crust
For household uses and proprieties.

Anecdotes abound in illustration of Miss Hosmer's untamed frolicsomeness and disposition to practical jokes. In one of those moods of unlicensed humor she caused to be published in the Boston papers a notice of the death of an [570] aged and retired physician then residing in her native village. His friends, moved by — the intelligence, came from the city to make inquiries concerning the sudden event, and to offer their condolence.

This incident led to the first important transition in her life; for it convinced her father that some new measures were essential in her education; and, after careful inquiry, in her sixteenth year, Miss Hosmer was placed in the celebrated school of Mrs. Sedgwick, in Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Dr. Hosmer frankly informed Mrs. Sedgwick of his daughter's history and peculiar traits, and that teachers had found her difficult to manage. The pupil was received with the remark, “I have a reputation for training wild colts, and I will try this one.”

With the old anxiety, and in accordance with his fixed principle of securing the physical development first, and the mental afterwards, Dr. Hosmer had stipulated that her athletic exercises should be continued. They were, indeed, included in the training of the school; but in all the feats of strength, courage, and agility, Harriet was the wonder of her companions.

Mrs. Fanny Kemble was accustomed to spend summers at Lenox, and was an intimate friend of the Sedgwicks. Surprising anecdotes are related by eye-witnesses of her strength and her equestrian teats. Miss Hosmer enjoyed opportunities of hearing her reading and conversation, and received from her friendly encouragement in her art-career, which was afterwards gratefully acknowledged. Her passion for sculpture found exercise in making plaster casts of the hands of her mates. Her room was decorated, as before at home, with the trophies of the hunt and the spoils of the woods.

She remained three years under the judicious care of Mrs. Sedgwick, forming permanent friendships in the school, be coming acquainted with many persons of eminence, moulded [571] by society of the first order, and inspired by the romantic mountain scenery,--a combination of influences of nature and of life, which, in her father's judgment, were .highly conducive to the success she so early attained. When in her nineteenth year she returned to Watertown, much improved by the wise direction given to her energies, her early predilections ripened into a purpose to make sculpture her pursuit. She had a thought,--she must make it a thing.

Having this end in view, she entered the studio of Mr. Stephenson, in Boston, for lessons in drawing and modelling, frequently walking the distance from home and back of fourteen miles, besides performing her esthetic tasks. Under his instruction she completed a beautiful portrait-bust of a child, and a spirited head of Byron in wax.

To perfect herself in anatomy, so essential to the sculptor, Miss Hosmer desired, in addition to all she could learn from books and her father, the knowledge which can be obtained only in the dissecting-room. The Boston Medical School had refused a request for the admission of a woman, but the Medical College of St. Louis afforded the required facilities. Prof. McDowell gave her efficient aid, and sometimes private lectures, when she was present while he prepared for his public demonstrations. She acknowledged her obligations to him “with great affection and gratitude, as being a most thorough and patient teacher, as well as at all times a good, kind friend;” and afterwards confirmed her words by presenting to him a medallion likeness, cut in marble from a bust by Clevenger. She received a diploma for her attainments.

Friendship added charms to the pursuit of science in St. Louis. At Lenox she had formed an affectionate intimacy with a school-mate, the daughter of Mr. Wayman Crow, an eminent citizen of that city. An invitation to visit there had incidentally opened way to the scientific privileges she [572] sought; while in his family she found her residence, and in him, she says, “the best friend I ever had.”

In that Western city, as aforetime, Miss Hosmer set at defiance the conventional rules which ordinarily govern, and perhaps too much afflict, young women, both by entering the classes f)r instruction, and by her transits by day or evening from the dwelling to the college, as well as by her customary exercises. The tongue of animadversion could not, perhaps, be entirely silent, even though, in that new region, with its fresh social freedom, she might be less exposed to censure than in the older and more staid New England; but it is asserted to the credit of the members of the college that she suffered no annoyance from them. Some may believe that a knowledge of her prowess in the use of deadly weapons was her security,--for it would be little honor to fall by a woman's shot,--and others may hold that blamelessness without affectation, integrity, and earnestness of character in a high pursuit are their own best protection,--safer than any rules of a suspicious and prudish propriety. She justified herself to her friends, gained their hearts by her vivacious and genial qualities in the domestic circle, and preserved unsullied honor.

Before her final departure from St. Louis for her native place, she resolved to see as much of the West as possible. It was the dry and warm season of the year, and the navigation of the Father of waters was uncertain and difficult. She embarked for New Orleans; spent several days in that city, making herself acquainted with its objects of interest, sleeping on board of the steamer, and returned, attended all the way by her usual good fortune. Without stopping so long as to greet her friends, she ascended the river to the Falls of St. Anthony, on a challenge from the captain of the boat, scaling a lofty cliff, which had been regarded as inaccessible, with the courage and agility of an Alpine hunter, and which according to his promise, received the name of Hosmer's [573] Height; visited the Dacotah Indians, smoking the pipe of peace with the chief, which was afterwards preserved in “the old house at home ;” and explored the lead mines at Dubuque, narrowly escaping a fatal accident there, which would have left her friends in ignorance of her fate; for they did not know where the spirit of adventure had led her; and her arrival at St. Louis again was the relief of their anxiety. These happy months over, she returned to her father's house and her art. Ever ready to indulge and facilitate her purpose, Dr. Hosmer fitted up a small studio for her convenience in — his garden, which she called facetiously her shop. There she wrought out various contrivances of mechanical ingenuity, and produced her first work in marble,--a reduced copy of Canova's bust of Napoleon, for her father. The labor was performed by her own hands, that she might be practically familiar with every part of the process. The likeness and workmanship are both good.

Soon afterwards she commenced Hesper,--her first original and ideal work. Mrs. Child, who saw it in the garden studio in the summer of 1852, by Dr. Hosmer's invitation, gives the following account of its execution and description, which were published in the “New York Tribune,” under the caption, “A New star in the Arts:” --

She did every stroke of the work with her own small hands, except knocking off the corners of the block of marble. She employed a man to do that; but as he was unused to work for sculptors, she did not venture to have him approach within several inches of the surface she intended to cut. Slight girl as she was, she wielded for eight or ten hours a day, a leaden mallet weighing four pounds and a half. Had it not been for the strength and flexibility of muscle acquired by rowing and other athletic exercises, such arduous labor would have been impossible.

I expected to see skilful workmanship; but I was not [574] prepared for such a poetic conception. This beautiful production of Miss Hosmer's hand and soul has the face of a lovely maiden, gently falling asleep to the sound of distant music. Her hair is gracefully arranged, and intertwined with capsules of the poppy. A polished star gleams on her forehead, and under her breast lies the crescent moon. The hush of evening breathes from the serene countenance and the heavily drooping eyelids. I felt tranquillized while looking at it, as I do when the rosy clouds are fading into gray twilight, and the pale moon-sickle descends slowly behind the dim woods. The mechanical execution of this bust seemed to me worthy of its lovely and lifelike expression. The swell of cheek and breast is like pure, young, healthy flesh; and the muscles of the beautiful mouth are so delicately cut, that it seems like a thing that breathes.

Hesper was presented by the artist to her friend, Miss Coolidge, of Boston.

When it was completed she said to her father, “Now I am ready to go to Rome.” Rome is the Mecca of artists. The tomb of the prophet is not more attractive to devout Mussulmen than its aesthetic treasures to all the children of genius. They flow thither from every cultivated nation, for the study of the noblest models, the inheritance of ancient and modern ages, for the sympathy and encouragement of companions in aspirations and toils, for the exhilaration and joy of artistic fellowship,--perhaps, also, for the indispensable end of more favorable opportunities for making known their works and of obtaining remuneration for their life-labors; and they often encounter as well the trials which spring from our poor nature, and allow no paradise on earth,--the envy, jealousy, bitter criticism, and aspersion of partakers and competitors in the same pursuits and the same glories.

About this time Miss Hosmer formed acquaintance with [575] Miss Charlotte Cushman, who recognized her ability, and kin. died her desire to study at Rome to a flame. It was arranged that her father, whose affection and devotion to his daughter seemed to equal her energy and enthusiasm, should accompany her there, and leave her, returning himself to his profession.

She rode on horseback to Wayland to bid farewell to her friend, Mrs. Child, and said, in reply to the questions, “Shall you never be homesick for your museum parlor in Watertown? Can you be contented in a foreign land?” “I can be happy anywhere with good health and a bit of marble.”

Lingering only a week in England, in her eager haste, she arrived at “the Eternal City” November 12, 1852. John Gibson, the most renowned of English sculptors of this century, was then in the zenith of his fame. It was the young artist's strong desire to become his pupil,--a desire clouded with much apprehension, because it had been intimated that want of persistency in overcoming difficulties on the part of ladies had brought disappointment upon instructors; and the success of her application was extremely doubtful. But two days after the arrival a friendly sculptor laid before him, as he sat at breakfast at the Cafe Greco, two daguerreotypes, the one presenting a front, the other a profile view of Hesper, and stated briefly Miss Hosmer's history and desire. Mr. Gibson contemplated them silently for a few moments and then said, “Send the young lady to me,whatever I can teach her, she shall learn.” The “London art journal” asserts that she was received by Mr. Gibson, “not as a professed pupil, but as the artist friend of our countryman.” Mrs. Ellet writes, “Ere long a truly paternal and filial affection sprung up between the master and the pupil, a source of great happiness to themselves, and of pleasure and amusement to all who know and value them, from the curious likeness, yet unlikeness, which existed from the first in Miss Hosmer to Mr. Gibson, and which daily intercourse has not [576] tended to lessen.” She expressed her joy in the new relation in a letter. “The dearest wish of my heart is gratified in that I am acknowledged by Gibson as a pupil. He has been resident in Rome thirty-four years, and leads the van. I am greatly in luck. He has just finished the model of the statue of the queen; and, as his room is vacant, he permits me to use it, and I am now in his own studio. I have also a little room for work which was formerly occupied by Canova, and perhaps inspiration may be drawn from the walls.”

The approach to the apartment she occupied was from the Via Fontanella through a large room containing numerous productions of Mr. Gibson's genius, a garden filled with orange and lemon trees and various flowers, a fountain trickling in a shady recess, then the master's studio, and from this by a flight of stairs within a curtain,--nature, imagination, and labor, all at one. She remained seven years in the studio of her teacher and friend.

The first winter in Rome was spent in modelling from the antique. The Venus of Milo, the Cupid of Praxiteles, and Tasso of the British Museum, were copied, in which the pupil proved the correctness of her eye, the soundness of her knowledge, and power of imitating the roundness and softness of flesh, which Mr. Gibson on one occasion stated he had never seen surpassed and rarely equalled. Her faculty of original conception had been evinced before in Hesper.

Her first design was the bust of Daphne, the beautiful maiden changed into a laurel when fleeing from Apollo, after the god had slain her lover, beseeching the earth to swallow her up. It is now in the possession of her liberal patron and friend of St. Louis, W. Crow.

It was speedily followed by the Medusa, represented as she was before she was transformed into a gorgon. The hair, retreating in waves from the forehead, changes into serpents. It is described as a “lovely thing, faultless in form, and intense [577] in its expression of horror and agony, without trenching on the physically painful.” It is owned by Mrs. Appleton, of Boston.

“These busts,” wrote Mr. Gibson, “do her great honor.” They were publicly exhibited in Boston in 1853. The next year Mr. Gibson wrote to Dr. Hosmer, to give him assurance of his daughter's unabated industry and success in her profession, relating also the favorable judgment of the Prussian Ranch, then very aged and one of the greatest of living sculptors.

In the summer of 1855 Miss Hosmer completed Oenone, her first full-length figure in marble. Oenone was a nymph of mount Ida, who became the wife of Paris, the beautiful shepherd, to whom Venus had promised the fairest woman in the world. The statue represents her as a shepherdess, bending with grief for her husband's desertion. Her crook lies on the ground. It was sent to Mr. Crow, who had given her, at her departure from America, an order for her first statue, to be filled in her own time by a subject of her own selection. It is a very beautiful production, and afforded such satisfaction that she was commissioned to execute another, on the same terms, for the Mercantile Library of St. Louis.

This order was answered after two years by the life-size statue of Beatrice Cenci, sleeping in her cell, after having been subjected to extreme torture, the morning before her execution.

Her father, a monster who deserved double death, but had escaped public justice by his wealth, had been assassinated. The daughter was accused of parricide, and, though guiltless, condemned. The marble expresses the sleep of innocence.

This was a very fine work. It was exhibited in London, and several American cities, where it received high encomiums. A beautiful engraving of it was published in the “London art journal” with honorable criticism. Mr. Gibson is said to [578] have remarked, on viewing it completed, “I can teach her nothing.” It was a gift to the library, of an unknown friend to the artist.

The insalubrity of the Campagna, the level country surrounding Rome, is well known. Southward is the region of the Pontine marshes, of ancient malarious fame, on which consuls, emperors, and popes have made vast expenditures, without subduing the malignity of nature. The pestilential air still spreads pallor over the features of the poor people who are compelled to live there, and even invades the city. It was the wish of Dr. Hosmer that his daughter should take refuge in some healthy place during the sickly season, and the first summer was passed at Sorrento, on the bay of Naples. The next year her zeal prevailed against all considerations of prudence; she would not leave the shadow of St. Peter's and the art treasures in the midst of which she wrought. The third summer, 1855, came, and she prepared for a journey to England. But the course of true art, like that of love, does not always run smoothly. The resources of Dr. Hosmer were not inexhaustible; the expenses of the artist's residence and pursuits in Rome were large; financial embarrassments were encountered; and retrenchment was urged with emphasis from home. In these circumstances she remained to prosecute her labors with the aim to produce some work of such attractive character as should secure immediate returns. The result was Puck, described by Shakespeare's fairy:--

Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Called Robin Good-fellow; are you not he
That fright the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk; and sometimes labor in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometimes make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work; and they shall have good luck.


It is about the size of a child four years of age, seated on a toadstool which splits beneath its weight. The lips are pouting,; a muscle-shell cleaves to the forehead at the parting of the hair; the left hand rests, confining under it a lizard; the right hand holds a beetle, and is raised in the act of throwing; the legs are crossed, and the great toe of the right foot turns pertly up;--the whole composing a figure of so much drollery and fun, that those who have seen it, when describing it, are wont to break into a gleeful laugh. This unique impersonation of humor in marble, conceived, perhaps like some gems of humorous poetry and romance in the hour of adversity, has been very popular. Twenty-five or thirty copies have been made. One is in the collection of the Prince of Wales.

Puck was followed by a companion figure named Will-oa — the-Wisp.

At this time was resident in Rome Madame Falconnet, an English lady, whose daughter, a lovely girl of sixteen years, had recently died. Being a Catholic, she was permitted to erect a mortuary monument in the church of San Andrea del Fratte. The design was entrusted to Miss Hosmer. It was modelled in clay in the winter of 1857, and executed in marble a year later. It is a portrait statue of the daughter, the figure of a beautiful maiden, resting upon a sarcophagus, in the sleep that has no waking. In this production the still repose of death is finely contrasted with the breathing slumber of life, which even the stone expresses in Beatrice Cenci. Mr. Layard, distinguished for his explorations in Nineveh, thus speaks of it in a letter addressed to Madame Falconnet: “I think you may rest fully satisfied with Miss Hosmer a success. It exceeds any expectations I had formed. The unaffected simplicity and tender feeling displayed in the treatment is all that could be desired for such a subject, and cannot fail to touch the most casual observer. I scarcely [580] remember ever to have seen a monument which more completely commanded my sympathy and more deeply interested me. I really know of none, of modern days, which I would rather have placed over the remains of one who had been dear to me. Do not believe this is exaggerated praise. I faithfully convey to you the impression made on me. I attribute this impression, not more to the artistic merit of the work than to the complete absence of all affectation, to the simple truthfulness and genuine feeling of the monument itself.” Mr. Gibson concurred in this commendation.

This was he first instance of the work of a foreign sculptor finding a permanent place in Rome. It was a tribute of the high appreciation in which the artist was then held and was regarded as a great honor.

About the same period was modelled the fountain of Hylas In mythological story, Hylas, the adopted son of Hercules, when the Argonautic expedition stopped at Mysia, went to a well for water. The naiads of the fountain, enraptured with his beauty, drew him in, and he was drowned.

The design of the sculptor consists of a basin in which dolphins are spouting jets, and an upper basin supported by swans; from this rises a pyramid, on which the fair boy stands, while the nymphs reach up their hands to draw him into the waters at his feet. The conception is classically just and highly poetical.

Before the two works last described were executed in marble, in the summer of 1857, Miss Hosmer returned to America,--five years from her departure. She had become a daughter of fame, but was still a child of nature. Her vivacity remained; she was modest and unpretentious in her enthusiasm; and her aspirations were kindled for yet higher achievements in the realms of art.

During this visit her mind was much occupied with the design of a statue of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, as she [581] appeared when led in chains in the triumphal procession of Aurelian. She searched libraries and read everything that could be found relating to that illustrious and unfortunate sovereign. Subsequently she labored upon it with so much assiduity and anxiety that her health was impaired, and she was ordered into Switzerland by her physician to save her life.

The statue is of colossal size, seven feet in height, a very noble figure, the commanding effect of which grows upon the mind,--a triumph of patient study, of genius, and of mechanical skill. Zenobia is represented walking. The movement has blended lightness, vigor, and grace. The left arm supports the drapery, which is elaborately cut; the right, without a purpose, for it can neither bless her people nor inspirit her troops, descends naturally as living muscle. The wrists bear the chains,--not heavy and galling,--perhaps Roman severity made them weightier. The head, crowned, is slightly bowed; the lips express disdain of the surrounding pageant of victorious foes; the eyes, downcast, and the features of oriental beauty reveal a soul self-sustained and absent, far away in memories of her magnificent empire of the East. She is still a queen in spirit, undethroned by calamity.

In this production Miss Hosmer made a bold, and, on the part of woman, an almost unexampled, adventure into the regions of the highest historic art; and she returned wearing the laurels of success. The statue received the highest praise. Critics pronounced its vindication in the light of the noblest models of Grecian art, and ascribed to it legitimate claims to a place in the front rank of. works of sculpture. We well remember the impression it made in Boston, where we were scarcely more interested in the fascinating form itself, than in observing the effect it produced on the minds of visitors who, with quiet demeanor, speaking low, appeared like persons coming unwontedly under the influence of a spiritual power [582] which arrested their steps and excited profound emotions. The poet Whittier says, “It very fully expresses my conception of what historical sculpture should be. It tells its whole proud and melancholy story. The shadowy outlines of the majestic limbs, which charmed us in the romance of Ware are here fixed and permanent:--

A joy forever.

In looking at it I felt that the artist had been as truly serving her country while working out her magnificent design abroad, as our soldiers in the field, and our public officers in their departments.”

In another sense besides what those words convey the artist served her country. The marble was purchased by A. W. Griswold, Esq., of New York, and is now in his possession. By his generous consent after the time agreed upon for its delivery, it was exhibited for the benefit of the soldiers in the famous Sanitary Fair at Chicago; and there the stately queen, who for her grasp at power trod the dust of captivity in chains sixteen centuries ago, ministered relief to the sufferers of the war for the republic and liberty. It is an instance of the reproach, from which human nature is not always exempt, even in a good cause, that a part of the proceeds on that occasion was retained by the exhibitors.

Very few productions of the modern chisel have excited so much remark as Zenobia. There is an almost romantic story connected with its exhibition in London. The critics recognized its merits, but denied that such a statue ever was the work of a woman, charging Miss Hosmer with artistic plagiarism, and ascribing the real authorship to Mr. Gibson, or an Italian sculptor. An article making such assertions appeared in the “London art journal” and “The Queen.” For this Miss Hosmer commenced a suit for libel; but soon after, the author of the libellous communication died; the suit was withdrawn on the condition that the editors should publish a [583] retraction in those periodicals, and, also, in the London times and “Galignani's Messenger,” which was done. The retraction of the editor in the Art journal was prefaced by a vigorous letter from the artist, in which the assertion occurs that Mr. Gibson would not allow any statue to go out of his studio, as the work of another, on which more assistance had been bestowed than was considered legitimate by every sculptor.

A large price was offered for Zenobia by the Prince of Wales; but the author said, “It must go to America.” She received five thousand dollars from the proceeds, besides all expenses, of its exhibition for her benefit. In the year 1860 Miss Hosmer revisited her native town, called there by the serious illness of her father. While tarrying once more at home she received a commission to design a bronze portrait statue of Col. Thomas Hart Benton, the distinguished senator and most eminent citizen of Missouri. Her former residence in St. Louis was remembered; and a degree of local pride was mingled with admiration for her success. Her friends knew her ability to express in marble beauty, tenderness, grace, and dignity; but thus far her works had been chiefly in the range of feminine characters. Could she depart from this sphere of art, and with equal skill set forth the strong, rugged, massive qualities of the famous statesman, and thus create for herself a reputation which need not bow before any difficulties, nor shrink from an enterprise requiring the most masculine capacity? The commissioners to the fullest extent trusted in the breadth and power of her genius. We append her reply to their communication, because it was so pertinent and characteristic of herself:

Watertown, June 22, 1860.
Gentlemen :---I have had the honor to receive your letter [584] of the 15th inst., informing me that the execution of the bronze statue, in memory of the late Col. Benton, for the city of St. Louis, is entrusted to me. Such a tribute to his merit would demand the best acknowledgment of any artist; but in the present instance my most cordial thanks will but insufficiently convey to you a sense of the obligation under which I feel you have placed me.

I have reason to be grateful to you for this distinction, because I am a young artist; and, though I may have given some evidence of skill in those of my statues which are now in your city, I could scarcely have hoped that their merit, whatever it may be, should have inspired the citizens of St. Louis to entrust me with a work whose chief characteristic must be the union of great intellectual power with manly strength.

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 them. I am not unmindful of the kind indulgence with which my works have been received; but I have sometimes thought that the critics might be more courteous than just, remembering from what hand they proceeded; but your kindness will now afford me an ample opportunity of proving to what rank I am really entitled as an artist unsheltered by the broad wings of compassion for the sex; for this work must be, as we understand the term, a manly work; and hence its merit alone must be my defence against the attacks of those who stand ready to resist any encroachment upon their self-appropriated sphere.

I utter these sentiments only to assure you that I am fully aware of the important results which to me as an artist wait on the issue of my labors, and hence, that I shall spare no pains to produce a monument worthy of your city, and worthy of the statesman who, though dead, still speaks to you in language [585] more eloquent and enduring than the happiest efforts in marble and bronze of ever so cunning a workman.

It only remains for me to add that as I shall visit St. Louis before my departure to Europe, further details may be then arranged. I have the honor to remain, gentlemen,

Respectfully yours, H. G. Hosmer.

In accordance with her purpose, Miss Hosmer visited St. Louis, Jefferson City, and other places, examining portraits and mementos of Col. Benton to supply herself with materials for the work. The next year she submitted photographs of her model to the commissioners and to his relatives, by whom they were unanimously approved. The plaster cast was sent from Rome to Munich to be cast at the royal foundry, the most celebrated in the world. In due time the statue arrived at the city of its destination; but partly on account of the war, more especially on account of hesitation in regard to the site, it remained three years or more boxed as it came from Europe. The location was at last fixed in Lafayette Park; and on the 27th day of May, 1868, the inauguration of the statue took place with imposing religious and patriotic ceremonies, in presence of a vast concourse of citizens and strangers.

By an appropriate selection Mrs. Fremont, the daughter of Col. Benton, unveiled the features of her father in bronze to the eyes of the multitude. The figure is ten feet in height, and weighs three and a half tons. A foundation was laid for it forty feet square, which rises two feet above the ground. On that rests a pedestal of New England granite ten feet square, so that the entire elevation is twenty-two feet. The upper drapery is a cloak of the kind which Col. Benton was fond of wearing. The hands appear unrolling a map. John [586] Gibson expressed his opinion in a letter to the commissioners in the following terms:--

The general effect of the figure is grand and simple. The ample cloak, which covers considerably the odious modern dress, is rich and broad, and the folds are managed with great skill, producing graceful lines. The head, a fine subject, is reflective and well modelled; also the position of the hands holding the paper, or plan, is very natural and well composed. In fact, I consider the work does the authoress great honor; and I feel it will give satisfaction to the gentlemen of the committee who had the penetration to entrust the execution of such a work to their countrywoman; and I may add, that the Americans may now boast of possessing what no nation in Europe possesses,--a public statue by a woman,--a little woman,--young, with great talent and love of her art.

A letter of W. Crow, written the day after the inauguration, states that the general expression of the thousands who saw it was favorable. Critics pronounced it a success as a work of art. Friends of Col. Benton declared it to be a good likeness. His relatives were more than gratified,--they were delighted.

On the east side of the pedestal, the name Benton is deeply cut. On the west side, the words:--

There is the east-
there is India.

This motto was selected by the artist with excellent judgment. It associates this memorial of a great man with no transient political questions, but with a vast enterprise of national utility and honor, a triumphant work of civilization, the grandeur of which will be revealed more and more in successive ages, in regard to which the forecasting views of [587] the statesman will be held in honored remembrance, when the party struggles of his time will be forgotten, when majestic journeys across the continent will be incidents of common life. Our readers will be glad to see the peroration of the speech on the Pacific Railroad which suggested the motto:--

Let us complete the grand design of Columbus, by putting Europe and Asia into communication, and that to our advantage, through the heart of our own country. Let us give to his ships, converted into cars, a continued course unknown to all former times. Let us make the iron road-and make it from sea to sea- . . . . the line which will find on our continent the Bay of San Francisco at one end, St. Louis in the middle, the national metropolis and great commercial emporiums at the other, and which shall be adorned with its crowning honor, the colossal statue of the great Columbus, whose design it accomplishes, hewn from the granite mass of a peak of the Rocky Mountains overlooking the road,--the mountain itself the pedestal, and the statue a part of the mountain,--pointing with outstretched arm to the western horizon, and saying to the flying passenger, “There is the East--there is India.”

The contract price of the statue to be paid to the artist was ten thousand dollars; the entire expense of the monument about thirty thousand dollars.

In the Dublin Exhibition of 1865, Miss Hosmer offered to the public the Sleeping Faun, in marble of life size, which was sold on the day it was opened for five thousand dollars. Sir Charles Eastlake said, “If it had been discovered among the ruins of Rome or Pompeii, it would have been pronounced one of the best of Grecian statues.” It was exhibited again in the Universal Exposition of Paris, 1867, where, with the great paintings of Church, Bierstadt, Huntington, and others, it [588] gave to tie most aesthetic nations new apprehensions of the progress and honors of American art. “Among the many pieces of marble statuary of modern artists,” says the United States Commissioner, E. C. Cowdin, Esq., “none was more admired than the Sleeping Faun, a figure of antique grace finely conceived and admirably executed.”

The Waking Faun, a companion piece, at a recent date was only clay. It is owned, with a second copy of the former, by Lady Ashburton, of England.

Another classic and beautiful work was a fountain designed for Lady Maria Alford. A figure of a woman, a siren, sits above the centre of the basin, which holds the water, singing. Below are three pleasing little figures, mounted on dolphins, which lie on the broad leaves of aquatic plants, enchanted by the music.

A writer in Rome, after describing this fountain, says, “Miss Hosmer has a peculiar mode of tinting the marble. I think she must have caught the better part of Gibson's idea; for she does not give it a flesh color, but a light creamy tint, which adds greatly to the expression of the statue and seems like the true color of old marble.” Pointing to the fountain she said, “All those babies have got to be washed before they go away.” This is the only reference we have obtained to her practice in regard to coloring statuary,--a novelty, introduced by Gibson, which encounters much opposition on the ground that it turns a statue into a doll,--that the office of sculpture is the expression of form, and should not in color, which belongs to another art, assume to be the counterpart of nature.

Several works of a varied character have been recently completed or are still in progress. Among them is a gateway for the entrance to an art-gallery at Ashridge Hall, England, ordered by Earl Brownlow. It is eight feet by sixteen, of very elaborate design. The price paid to the artist is twenty-five thousand dollars. [589]

Another is a chimney-piece for Lady Ashburton, illustrating the death of the Dryads. It also is to be sixteen feet high. The figures are of life size in alto relievo. The cost is twelve thousand five hundred dollars.

The Bridge of Sighs, so named, was ordered two years ago by a literary gentleman of London. It illustrates in marble Hood's popular poem descriptive of a drowned woman.

In 1860 Miss Hosmer sent to her friend, Mr. Crow, at his request, the drawing of a monument for a cemetery. The cross as a symbol has been virtually surrendered to the Catholics, though Protestants may employ it with perfect right and propriety; and we trust the use of it will return. Like others, Mr. Crow had felt the incongruity with Christian faith of the heathen symbols,--the inverted torch, the Egyptian gateway, the Grecian temple,--which occur so frequently in our burial-places, and desired something new and appropriate, which should express a Christian's hopes.

The design consists of a marble pedestal, of elaborate and beautiful construction, surmounted by a group of statuary,--Christ restoring to life the daughter of Jairus. The prostrate form and the countenance of the dead maiden vividly present the fact of our mortality. The noble figure of the Saviour is full of tenderness, but without sorrow: he is doing a work of joy. On the entablature of the pedestal are the inscriptions, on the one side, “I am the resurrection and the life:” on the opposite side, “he that beleveth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” On the broad spaces beneath, the family names are to be carved.

This design has not yet been put into marble; but it is eminently desirable that the conception should be realized. The subject is not hackneyed; it is sculpturesque, appropriate, and Christian. When adequately accomplished it will be a noble testimony, not only to the artist, but also to the friend whose Christian sentiments called for it; and the community [590] of Christians have reason for deep interest in it. The symbols of faith should transcend the lower conceptions of sense, sorrow, disappointment, and darkness, giving to our cemeteries instead a characteristic expression of chastened confidence and joyful hope.

A very few days after the death of President Lincoln, a poor colored woman of Marietta, Ohio, made free by his proclamation, proposed that a monument should be erected, by the colored people of the United States, to their dead friend; and she handed to a citizen of that place five dollars as her contribution for the purpose. Twenty-three thousand dollars were raised and deposited in the hands of a committee, with the request that they would take measures for the erection of a monument in Washington.

Miss Hosmer heard of the proposed “Memorial to freedom,” and, prompted by her friends, designed a monument, a plaster cast of which has been exhibited in Boston. The structure consists, first, of a base sixty feet square, to which seven steps ascend. Four bas reliefs in bronze surround this base, representing incidents in the life of the president, his early occupations, his career as a member of the Legislature, his inauguration at Washington, memorable events of the war, his assassination and funeral obsequies. On the corners of this base are four short, round columns, on which stand four statues of the negro, finely idealized, showing him in four conditions,--sold as a slave, laboring on a plantation, a guide to our troops, and finally a freeman and soldier.

An octagonal base rests on the lower, on four sides of which are the inscriptions:--“Abraham Lincoln;
martyr President of the United States;
emancipator of four millions of men;
preserver of the American Union.

Upon this is a circular base, around which is a bas relief [591] of thirty-six female figures, hand in hand, symbolical of the Union of the States. From this rises a pillared temple, within which stands the statue of the president, holding in the left hand a broken chain, in the right the proclamation of emancipation. Upon the cornice of the temple are inscribed the concluding words of that instrument: “And upon this, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.” Four mourning Victories standing around the central figure with trumpets reversed express the sorrow of the nation.

In this design, the description of which is given chiefly in the author's words, she endeavored to express the idea that the Temple of Fame which we rear to the memory of Lincoln rests upon the two great acts of his administration,--the Emancipation of the Slave, and the Preservation of the American Union; and with beautiful fitness the end is accomplished. The work itself is sufficient evidence of her convictions as a pronounced and stanch friend of freedom and the Union. It must have been a labor of love; she must have fashioned it with her heart as well as with artistic genius.

The “London art journal” published an engraving and description, modified by presenting four female figures near the columns of the temple bearing wreaths to the freedmen, from which we extract the following sentences: “With the exception of the great monument to Frederick the Great, at Berlin, by Rauch, the Lincoln Monument is the grandest recognition of the art of sculpture that has been offered to our age. Bearing in mind that this is to be called the Freedmen's Monument, it was necessary that the circumstances attending the act of emancipation should form, as they do, the principal features of the design. It will stand a simple, comparatively unadorned, yet most imposing, memorial of the dead, and a [592] lasting witness to the lady sculptor who has had the honor to be selected for its execution.”

The committee adopted the design, “deeming it the greatest achievement of modern art,” and confident that every one who loves his country, and loves art, and honors Abraham Lincoln, will aid in the completion of this great work. It will cost two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; but this should not prevent its erection. There are now commenced or proposed three memorial structures, which the nation may well hasten to complete, even in times of political and financial difficulty,--the monuments to the Pilgrims, to Washington, and to Lincoln.

It will be observed that Miss Hosmer has wrought on ideal subjects. She would have enjoyed abundant patronage working on busts, but has preferred to give the creations of her own imagination a solid, enduring form. She thus makes a higher challenge for immortal fame.

These pages convey to our readers materials for forming their own judgment of the estimation in which she should be held as an artist.-If compared with women, she has very few rivals. We do not know whether the name of Sabina Von Steinbach, who adorned the famous cathedral of Strasburg, and whose sculptured groups are the objects of admiration to this day, is more illustrious. If compared with men, there are many who compete for the palm; and the opinions of critics, no doubt, will differ, at least for a period. Time is necessary to establish the position of a genius of the highest rank. We think Miss Hosmer can afford to wait, and that she needs no indulgence of criticism on the score of her sex. She has not gained the elevation on which she now stands, unchallenged and unopposed. The sketch of Mrs. Child gives a paragraph to the fact. She herself, in the pithy and pointed words of the letter to the “London art journal,” before adverted to, seems to say from her own experience: “Few [593] artists who have been in any degree successful enjoy the truly friendly regard of their professional brothers; but a woman artist who has been honored by frequent commissions is an object of peculiar odium.” That journal, after the impeachment which has been related, said, in connection with the Freedmen's Monument: “Of her power to fulfil the trust reposed in her there can be no doubt; her genius is of the highest order, and she has proved her capacity by producing some of the greatest works in sculpture of our age.” And again: “The works of Miss Hosmer, Hiram Powers, and others we might name, have placed American on a level with the best modern sculptors of Europe. There are examples from the studios of the artists we have named specially that have not been surpassed by any contemporary sculptor of any nation; while there is no doubt that already the foundation has been laid for a school of sculpture in the Western World, which will ennoble the people who have sprung from the same loins as ourselves, who speak the same language, and read our literature, and, in spite of what some say, are proud of the old country from which they have descended.” This is not the judgment of partial friends nor incompetent critics. Miss Hosmer's diligence and enterprise have gained the crown for her genius. She has her days for the reception of visitors and her seasons for recreation and athletic exercise; but her hours of study are sacred, and she spares no effort to attain perfection in her art. “She studies from life and from death.” She received the commission for the “Bridge of Sighs” in Paris. Desiring to observe for herself the peculiar effects on the body, of death by drowning, in company with her friend, Mr. Crow, she visited the Morgue several times, till she found the required subject. When working upon the Cenci she had models go to sleep on a bench, till she had fixed the attitude of the girl sleeping in the prison. When she executed the Medusa, the hair of which changes into serpents, she [594] found no good casts of a snake in Rome,--her knowledge of anatomy teaching her that they were taken from dead, not living specimens. She employed a herdman near the city to procure one alive, tied it to a piece of marble in her studio till she was ready, then gave it chloroform and made her cast, keeping it in the plaster three and a half hours. The reptile came out alive and well, was sent back by Goviona, turned loose in its old haunt; and she had the best model of a snake in the capital of art, of which other artists avail themselves.

Her studio in the Via Margutta is said to be itself a work of art, and the most beautiful in Rome, if not in Italy. The entrance is made attractive with flowers and birds. In the centre of the first room stands the Fountain of the Siren. Each room of the series contains some work of art, hanging baskets, and floral decorations. Her own apartment, in which she herself works, displays her early tastes in flowers and broken relics of art, with collections of minerals, drawings, and rare books. A lady writes for the use of this sketch: “She superintends her work herself, and will wield the chisel more adroitly than any practised workman. In this she has the advantage; for many artists can only design, and ignore the practical working of their ideas, which, left to a mechanical taste, often leave us an inexpressible dissatisfaction, while admiring the conception.”

In the process of sculpture, the sculptor first works out carefully his own ideal in a small image of clay. The rude and mechanical labor of enlarging this image into the clay model of full size (which often requires a frame of iron and a blacksmith's forge), taking the plaster cast, and finally transferring it to marble, is done by hired workmen. “Still,” in the words of Miss Hosmer, “their position in the studio is a subordinate one. They translate the original thought of the sculptor, written in clay, into the language of marble. The [595] translator may do his work well or ill,--he may appreciate and preserve the delicacy of sentiment and grace which were stamped upon the clay, or he may render the artist's meaning coarsely and unintelligibly. Then it is that the sculptor himself must reproduce his ideal in the marble, and breathe into it that vitality which, many contend, only the artist can inspire. But, whether skilful or not, the relation of these workmen to the artist is precisely the same as that of the mere linguist to the author who, in another tongue, has given to the world some striking fancy or original thought.”

Miss Hosmer's genius is not limited to sculpture. There are those who believe that, had she chosen the pursuit of letters, she would have excelled as much in literature as she does in art,--that she would have wielded the pen with as much skill and power as she does the chisel of the statuary. Evidences of this are found in her correspondence. She has published a beautiful poem, dedicated to Lady Maria Alford of England, and a well-written article, in the “Atlantic monthly,” on the Process of Sculpture, perspicuous and philosophical in its treatment of the subject. In it she defends women-artists against the impeachments of their jealous brothers. Becoming a resident of Rome, Miss Hosmer preserved many of the habits of independence and freedom of exercise which she had formed in her native land. The latter was an indispensable condition of health: accordingly she rode about the city and its environs without restraint; and after a while people ceased to wonder.

About six years ago three persons established a pack of hounds in Rome for the purpose of fox-hunting. Our artist, as one of them, contributed two hundred and fifty dollars, and procured the services of a huntsman, whom she mounted at her own expense. This grew into a society of Italians and foreigners. Americans gave their money liberally, and with English residents entered warmly into the sport. Miss Hosmer, [596] it is related, rode with astonishing ease and fearlessness. “None of the English officers excelled her in leaping ditches and fences. With her friend, Miss Cushman, she often led the chase, returning with quite as just claims for the fox as gentlemen could present.” By the rules of the hunt the tail of the fox, called the brush, is given to the best and boldest rider as a trophy; but the Italians, having a majority of the members, managed everything in their own way, and, whatever might be his feats of horsemanship, never did an American receive the coveted honor. At length an act of injustice done to. the American consul brought to pass a serious imbroglio in the association of hunters for recreation — and a fox. Hitherto Miss Hosmer had borne the absence of courtesy to herself in silence; but on that occasion she withdrew from the society, and addressed a spirited and spicy letter to the master of the Roman hounds, which was sent to this country for general publication, that it might be well understood with what readiness American money was received, and with what facility the honors passed to other hands.

In stature Miss Hosmer is rather under the medium height. The engraving which accompanies this sketch is from a drawing by her friend, Emily Stebbins, executed quite a number of years ago. It presents her as much resembling a fair and brilliant boy; and this agrees well with the description given by Mrs. Child of her appearance when she first returned to this country: “Her face is more genial and pleasant than her likenesses indicate; especially when engaged in conversation its resolute earnestness lights up with gleams of humor. She looks as she is,--lively, frank, and reliable. In dress and manners she seemed to me a charming hybrid between an energetic young lady and a modest lad. . . She carried her spirited head with a manly air. Her broad forehead was partially shaded with short, thick, brown curls, which she often tossed aside with her fingers, as lads do.” A recent [597] photograph shows the same style of wearing the hair, and shape of the forehead, with changes of time. The eyes are more deeply set beneath the brows; and the mouth and chin with bolder curve give the expression of maturity and force.

In manner Miss Hosmer is prompt and decided. Her conversation is original, humorous, and animated; her voice clear and ringing; and her laugh, which frequently occurs, musical. She is fond of puns, and inclined to facetiousness. A common signature of letters to her friends is a hat. One of her English friends named her Berritina,--in Italian, small hat. An anecdote related to the writer by the gentleman concerned exhibits her self-reliant and almost defiant spirit. He had dined with her at the house of the American consul. When the company separated, after dark, he proposed to accompany her home. “No gentleman,” was the reply, “goes home with me at night in Rome.” It is needless to say she is a prominent figure in American society there.

It has already sufficiently appeared that her character is strongly marked, positive, piquant, and unique. Some would call her masculine and strong-minded. She certainly defies conventionalities, and is self-sustained, bold, and dashing to a degree which must offend those who believe it is scarcely less than a sin that a woman should trespass on the ancient rules of occupation, and the borders of that gentleness and delicacy which they have regarded as special properties and ornaments of her sex. But the defence of her youth may be repeated; her boldness is not immodest, and her humor is not malicious. No trace appears of corrupt principles and evil sentiments; and if “spirits are not finely touched but for fine uses,” then her works prove that she must have been sculptured by nature as one among the noblest forms of the human soul.

By the ordinances of the Creator, and by characteristic endowments, most women must find their wisest, happiest, and [598] most exalted life in the circle of domestic love and duty, but they are not all called to reign in the sacred dominion of the family; and, without involving themselves in questions agitated on many platforms concerning the rights and sphere of woman, not a few of their best spirits are quietly working out those problems by enterprising and honorable endeavors with triumphant results. If legislation, from whatever cause, in the past has been unjust, and if sad instances are recorded of calumny which has foamed out against the daughters of learning and art, it is still true that men generally have shown themselves disposed to honor those who have performed lofty achievements. From the time when “the women that were wise-hearted” wrought for the construction and decoration of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and the time when Hypatia taught philosophy in Alexandria with inspiring eloquence, to the present, facts show that true and great-hearted women can find sufficient encouragement, from age to age, in the justice, admiration, and substantial rewards of brothers who are brothers; and bright on the pages that shall preserve the history of those noble sisters will stand the name of Harriet G. Hosmer.

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