Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Artist

Edmonia Lewis (Ohio or Rensselaer, NY, 7/4/1844 - 9/17/1907, London, United Kingdom)

Title

Unidentified Female Bust

Creation Date

1869

Century

mid-19th century

Dimensions

22 x 19 x 11 in. (55.88 x 48.26 x 27.94 cm)

Object Type

sculpture

Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

marble

Credit Line

Gift of Elizabeth C. Roak and Robert H. Roak

Copyright

Public Domain

Accession Number

2017.62
Born in New York to a Haitian father and mother of Ojibwe descent, Edmonia Lewis was a distinguished sculptor in the United States and Italy. Forced to withdraw from Oberlin College after racially motivated accusations of poisoning her roommates and subsequent assaults, Lewis ultimately settled in Boston in 1864. There a group of abolitionist leaders supported her efforts to become a sculptor. Lewis is known for her commissioned sculptures, such as the one featured here, but also for work that dealt with her Native American heritage and the oppression of Black people. Many of the sculptures she produced that represent Native American and Black people take on European physiognomy, akin to those featured in this sculpture of an unidentified woman. Art historian Charmaine Nelson has suggested that by sculpting figures of European origin or with European features, Lewis distanced herself from her artwork, ensuring that no one would interpret her works as reflective of her own identity and experience.

Object Description

Bust and seperate marble plinth (base)

Additional Media

Additional Image side-3/4 view
side-3/4 view
Additional Image side
side

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