Harriet Hosmer Biography - American Sculptor

Harriet Hosmer was a nineteenth century American Sculptor who proved that a woman could handle a chisel as well as a palette and brush.

Harriet Hosmer has brought honor to both her country and her sex by her brilliant work as a sculptor. She proved that Americans can be sculptors and that a woman can handle a chisel as well as palette and brush.

Harriet Hosmer was born in Watertown, Massachusetts. She enjoyed a very active childhood with much physical exercise. Since her mother and older sister died of tuberculosis, her physician father encouraged her to spend much time outdoors in the open air. Harriet soon became an all around athlete, participating in hunting, fishing, rowing, and horseback riding. In the fields and forests she gained a thorough knowledge of animal life, and when while she was but a child she began to model dogs, horses, and other animals in a clay pit near her home. The physical strength that she acquired in her childhood would enable her afterward to wield the four pound mallet for eight or ten hours per day that was required of a sculptor.

While her studies were of secondary importance, she was still given a good education. Harriet was sent to a progressive school that fostered independence and provided her with creative women role models. She soon found that sculpting was her forte and she went to St. Louis to study anatomy.

Next she went to Rome and became the pupil of the famous sculptor, John Gibson, where she attracted the patronage of affluent tourists. For her work, "The Sleeping Faun", she received $5,000. Harriet was not the only female sculptor in Rome at this time, but became one of a group of American women sculptors dubbed the "White Marmorean Flock". She also joined herself to a large circle of international artists and writers and became a great success. Some of her most famous works are "Zenobia in Chains" and "Queen of Palmyra".

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