Edmonia Lewis

Written by Jenni Wiltz
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Edmonia Lewis is an inspiration to African-American artists and sculptors everywhere. Found as an orphan traveling with a Native American tribe in the mid-1800s, Edmonia Lewis went to college in Ohio and revealed her talent for artistic pursuits. The prominent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison later arranged for her to travel to Boston to escape the persecution she suffered in Ohio.

After earning a reputation sculpting Civil War heroes and abolitionists, she moved to Rome and was able to work in the same studio as the legendary Italian artist Caravaggio. She never returned to America, and was last seen in Rome in approximately 1911. She was both the first African American and first Native American sculptress to earn fame both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Works of Edmonia Lewis

Her most famous work is titled Forever Free, sculpted in 1867. This marble sculpture depicts two freed slaves and is now housed at the Howard University Gallery of Art in our nation's capital. She became a celebrity based on The Death of Cleopatra, exhibited at the centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1876. It is only fitting that this amazing sculptress be represented in sculpture herself.

All God's Children, maker of fine historical figurines, presents a depiction of Edmonia standing next to a sculpture of hers mounted on a Greek column pedestal. Other unique collectibles cannot hope to match the impact of this figurine: it captures Edmonia's fiery spirit beautifully. Any students of art or history will appreciate this woman of many firsts.


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