HARRIET GOODHUE HOSMER, 1830-1908
The Crow family became prominent in the history of St. Louis, Missouri, when the Honorable Wayman Crow (1808-1885) brought his family there from Kentucky in 1835. Civic leader, state senator, and business tycoon, Wayman Crow was the founder of Washington University and later of its art museum. Wayman Crow married Isabella B. Conn (1814-1892); among their children were Cornelia (Crow) Carr, Emma (Crow) Carr, Mary (Crow) Emmons, and Wayman Crow, Jr.
In the years 1847-1851 Cornelia Crow (1833-1922) attended Elizabeth Sedgwick's seminary in Lenox, Massachusetts. Here she met and befriended Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, who was later to become one of America's most distinguished woman sculptors. Wayman Crow became Harriet Goodhue Hosmer's first benefactor and life-long patron, managing her financial matters until his death.
Cornelia (Crow) Carr married anthropologist Lucien Carr (1829-1915) and moved with him to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Lucien Carr was assistant curator of Harvard University's Peabody Museum. They had five children: Harriet Hosmer Carr (1855-1880), Wayman Crow Carr (1856-1857), Alfred William Carr (1858-1918), Lucien Carr, Jr. (1862-1914), and Isabella Wayman Carr (1868-1928).
In 1912, four years after Harriet Goodhue Hosmer's death, Cornelia (Crow) Carr published a biography of the sculptor entitled, Harriet Hosmer, Letters and Memories .
From the guide to the Additional papers, 1848-1915, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)
Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (October 9, 1830-February 21, 1908), was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dr. Hiram Hosmer and Sarah (Grant) Hosmer. Her mother, brothers, and sister died when she was a young child and she was raised by her father, who encouraged her in out-of-door activities. She thus grew up with a strong love for the outdoors, and perhaps for this reason was always in good health.
At sixteen, HGH was sent to the home-school of Mrs. Charles Sedgwick of Lenox, where she was allowed the freedom to continue her interest in nature and where she met such literary and artistic figures as Fanny Kemble, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this atmosphere her interest in art, and particularly in sculpture, developed. She also met Wayman Crow (WC), father of her best friend Cornelia Crow, who became her first benefactor and life-long patron.
In 1850, through the influence of WC, HGH went to St. Louis, Missouri, to study anatomy under the direction of Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell, head of the medical school of the state university. At the end of the semester, she returned to Boston and that summer produced her first sculpture, Hesper, in her home studio in Watertown. In the fall of 1852, encouraged by the actress, Charlotte Cushman, with whom she was to live, HGH went to Rome. The English sculptor, John Gibson, took her on as a pupil; she studied with him until she established a studio of her own six years later.
Throughout her career HGH took part in the social life of the English and American colony in Rome and Florence. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Sir Frederick Leighton, Lady Alwyne Compton, Lady Marianne Alford, Adelaide (Kemble) Sartoris and the William Story family were among her special friends. The many visitors to her studio included royalty from many countries in Europe. She spent the summers with members of the English aristocracy at their homes in England.
- Hesper, 1852
- The Clasped Hands of Mr. and Mrs. Browning, 1853
- Daphne, 1854
- Medusa, 1854
- Oenone, 1855
- Puck, 1856
- Beatrice Cenci, 1856-1857
- Falconnet monument, 1858
- Fountain of Hylas and the Water Nymphs, 1858
- Zenobia, 1861
- Fountain of the Sirens, 1861
- Sleeping Faun, 1865
- Waking Faun, 1866
- Will-o'-the-Wisp, 1866
- Bust of Wayman Crow, 1868
- Queen of Naples, 1868
- Fountain of the Mermaid's Cradle, 1892
- Triton, 1892
- Queen Isabella, 1894
- The Staghound, n.d.
- African Sibyl, partially completed, n.d.
HGH produced little sculpture after 1885, but spent most of her time visiting friends in England and America, giving an occasional lecture. She lived the last years of her life in Watertown, Massachusetts, devoting virtually all her time and energy to attempts to create a perpetual motion machine. This work reflected a life-long interest in mechanical devices and other inventions; she had tried to perfect a technique for making marble out of limestone. HGH died in 1908.
Harriet Hosmer, Letters and Memories (HH,LM), edited by Cornelia Crow Carr (CCC), was published in 1912. For other biographical information, see the article in Notable American Women (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), which includes a list of additional sources. See also Hosmeriana: A Guide to Works by and about Harriet G. Hosmer, by Joseph L. Curran, 1975 (available at the Schlesinger Library, 730/H32c). Other HGH papers are listed in Women's History Sources (New York and London, 1979).
From the guide to the Papers, 1834-1959, (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)
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