Harriet Hosmer

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Hosmer, Harriet (1830—1908)

Hosmer, daughter of Hiram Hosmer, a physician, and a member of a prominent Unitarian family, developed an interest in art after being taken to Rome by her father.

A friend of Fanny Kemble and Elizabeth Browning, Hosmer became a sculptor who competed, but lost the competition, to create a monument for the grave of Abraham Lincoln. She did, however, create the monument for the grave of Edward Everett.

When she studied and worked in Italy, Henry James described her as one of “that strange sisterhood of American lady sculptors who at one time settled upon the seven hills [of Rome] in a white marmorean flock.” Among her visitors were Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, and Hosmer may have been one of the artists depicted in Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun.

A Hosmer statue of Thomas Hart Benton stands in Lafayette Park, St. Louis, Missouri.

See a biographical article of Hosmer online. It contains the following:

Of her many works, the amusing Puck playing on a toadstool was purchased by the Prince of Wales. Because of its popularity, she created 50 replicas which sold for $1,000 each. A colossal statue of Senator Thomas Hart Benton was commissioned by the state of Missouri. When Harriet’s detractors claimed her work was done by male assistants, she brought a libel suit, and wrote in defense an authoritative Atlantic Monthly article on “The Process of Sculpture.”
Among the sculptor’s many friends in Rome were Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

{Jane Backstrom, “A Marmorean Flock,” The World, January-February 1994; EG}