Harriet Hosmer 19th Century Sculptor


"Looking Around Sydney"

Harriet Hosmer although not widely recognized is considered one the most distinguished American sculptors of the 19th Century. Born in Massachusetts in 1830 she was raised by her father after the age of 12 when her mother and 3 siblings passed away. Harriet was rather tomboyish in nature and was encouraged by her father in areas of physical activity. She became expert in things like rowing, skating and riding. He also supported her artistic exploration. Early on she demonstrated skill in modeling and studied anatomy with her father and later gained private instruction at the all male Missouri Medical College. This was a way for her to hone her skill in the absence of being allowed to study from a live model due to being a woman. At 22 she moved to Rome to escape the limitations she felt existed for her as a sculptor in America. She grew under the instruction of John Gibson and was exposed to working from a live model. She developed a neo-classical style which evolved during the 18th Century in Rome and spread throughout Europe.
I love her use of color too. It has
an element of boldness and perhaps
seduction as I think about these
paintings further.

What I love about the 3 sculptures
shown here is the feeling of
gentleness that comes through the 
form.  I also think it's interesting
that the heads on these women
are all cast downward.  I'm not sure
of the significance of that. Perhaps
this is left up to the viewer to

On a more technical note, Hosmer
came up with a way to convert limestone
into marble.

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