Who's Hosmer?

The first lady of sculpture, that's who

You may not recognize the name “Harriet Hosmer,” but you’re probably familiar with her work. That heroic, Neoclassical statue of Thomas Hart Benton in Lafayette Park? That’s a Hosmer. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Hosmer came to St. Louis in 1850 to study anatomy at Missouri Medical College (now the Washington University School of Medicine) — something women of any class or background did not do in 1850. Hosmer later moved to Rome, hobnobbed with Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and supported herself as a sculptor. Many accused her of having male assistants who actually did the sculpting, a charge that Hosmer rebuffed first in court and then in a detailed “how-to-sculpt” article that demonstrated her intimate knowledge of the art. Little wonder that Browning referred to her friend as “a perfectly emancipated female.” “Zenobia Unchained: The Life and Work of Harriet Hosmer,” a brief play that outlines the major details of this pioneering female artist, is performed at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Friday (May 6 through 16) at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) as part of the “Theatre in the Museum” series. Admission is free.
Tue., May 6, 2008

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