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Edmonia Lewis (1844 - 1907)

Lot 84: Edmonia Lewis (1845- after 1911)


November 29, 2000
New York, NY, US

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Hiawatha inscribed and dated 'Edmonia Lewis Fecit a Rome 1868' and 'Hiawatha' white marble 141/4 in. (36.3 cm.) high LITERATURE K.P. Buick, "The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking and Inverting Autobiography," American Art, Summer 1995, pp. 5-19, illustrated J.M. Holland, "Mary Edmonia Lewis's Minnehaha : Gender, Race and the 'Indian Maid'," Bulletin of the Detroit Insitute of Arts, 1995, pp. 26-35, illustration of another example W.H. Gerdts, American Neo-Classic Sculpture: The Marble Resurrection, New York, 1973, p. 133, illustration of another example NOTES Born to an African-American father and an American Indian mother, Edmonia Lewis was the first African-American sculptor to achieve national prominence. Raised by her mother's Chippewa tribe in Albany, New York, by whom she was known as Wildfire, Lewis briefly attended Oberlin College in Ohio from 1859-1862, then moved to Boston to study sculpture with Edward Brackett. Lewis began selling her works soon after, and by 1865 had earned enough money for her first passage to Italy, working in Florence and then in Rome. She joined ranks with the White Marmorean Flock, a group of women sculptors who worked in the Neo-Classical style, including Harriet Hosmer, Florence Freeman, and Emma Stebbins. Executed in Rome at the height of her career and inspired by the Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiawatha and Minnehaha are highly refined Neo-Classical works that evoke the artist's American Indian Heritage.

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