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Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia Lewis
Henry Rocher, 1826 - 1887
Edmonia Lewis, 4 Jul 1844 - 17 Sep 1907
c. 1870
Albumen silver print
Image/Sheet: 9.2 x 5.2 cm (3 5/8 x 2 1/16")
Mount: 10 x 6.2 cm (3 15/16 x 2 7/16")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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Object number
Exhibition Label
Edmonia Lewis achieved international recognition as a sculptor during the second half of the nineteenth century. Educated at Oberlin College, she settled first in Boston, where she created portrait busts and medallions of prominent politicians, writers, and abolitionists. In 1865 she relocated to Rome and joined an active community of American and British artists living abroad. Adopting a neoclassical style then widely popular, she found inspiration in stories from the Bible and classical mythology, as well as from African American history. Her sculpture Forever Free (1867) depicts an African American couple as they first hear news of the Emancipation Proclamation. Although Lewis enjoyed unprecedented success for several decades, she died in obscurity.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection