Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908) is probably the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of, and I think that should change. I came to Harriet Hosmer by way of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The two women were expatratriates together in mid-nineteenth century Italy; both were extremely popular in their day and all but disappeared from popular memory a generation later. (Only Elizabeth Barrett’s marriage to Robert Browning seems to have kept her from disappearing from the British canon completely.)
I’m here to do my small part in returning Harriet Hosmer to her rightful place in American history. I can only hope that we finally live in an era where there are too many women participating in public life for a generation of female achievement to be buried again.
Historian Kate Culkin, the author of Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography, believes “Harriet Hosmer’s life resonates with those of us in the 21st century as she was so interested in and adept at shaping her image for the public. She was an international celebrity, and she and her supporters took great care to ensure that Hosmer, an ambitious, single woman who had moved to Rome with no intention of returning to the United States, was depicted an patriotic and genteel.” [Read more...]