Description Edmonia Lewis was the first African American sculptor to receive international recognition. Born in Greenbush, New York, to a Haitian father of African descent and a mother of Native American and African American descent, Lewis spent a brief time in Boston studying with the sculptor Edward Brackett. In 1866, she moved from Boston to Rome, Italy, to study sculpture and to escape racial discrimination. Lewis adopted the prevailing Neoclassical style of sculpture but softened it with a degree of naturalism. She had a successful career specializing in biblical subjects, themes recalling her Native American and African American ancestry, and portrait busts of important people. This portrait bust of Diocletian Lewis (1823–86), was made in the artist's Rome studio. Dio Lewis (no relation) who trained in medicine at Harvard College's medical department and practiced briefly in Buffalo, New York, is remembered chiefly for lectures and publications dealing with preventive medicine and physical hygiene, as well as for his support of liberal causes, including women's rights.
Provenance A. A. Child's and Co., Boston, January 1868; New York City, February 1868; Steven L. Jones, Philadelphia, 2002 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2002, by purchase.
Inscriptions [Signature] Edmonia Lewis fecit a Roma 1868
Credit Museum purchase with funds provided by the Eddie and Sylvia Brown Challenge Grant, and matching funds, for the acquisition of African American Art, 2002
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