Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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2017.62

Artist

Edmonia Lewis

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, African American

Medium and Support

marble

Credit Line

Gift of Elizabeth C. Roak and Robert H. Roak

Copyright

Public Domain

Accession Number

2017.62
Edmonia Lewis was a distinguished American sculptor who spent many productive years in Rome. Forced to withdraw from Oberlin College after racially motivated accusations and assaults, Lewis—whose father was Afro-Haitian and whose mother was Mississauga Ojibwe—settled in Boston in 1864, where a group of abolitionist leaders supported her efforts to become a sculptor. Two years later she moved to Rome and became connected with a community of American expatriate artists and writers. This bust of an as yet unidentified female subject was carved there. Lewis gained international recognition for her work and made headlines in 1876 for her 3,000-pound marble sculpture The Death of Cleopatra, when it was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.