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Who's Hosmer?

The first lady of sculpture, that's who

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You may not recognize the name “Harriet Hosmer,” but you’re probably familiar with her work. That heroic, Neoclassical statue of Thomas Hart Benton in Lafayette Park? That’s a Hosmer. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Hosmer came to St. Louis in 1850 to study anatomy at Missouri Medical College (now the Washington University School of Medicine) — something women of any class or background did not do in 1850. Hosmer later moved to Rome, hobnobbed with Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and supported herself as a sculptor. Many accused her of having male assistants who actually did the sculpting, a charge that Hosmer rebuffed first in court and then in a detailed “how-to-sculpt” article that demonstrated her intimate knowledge of the art. Little wonder that Browning referred to her friend as “a perfectly emancipated female.” “Zenobia Unchained: The Life and Work of Harriet Hosmer,” a brief play that outlines the major details of this pioneering female artist, is performed at 2 p.m. Tuesday and Friday (May 6 through 16) at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org) as part of the “Theatre in the Museum” series. Admission is free.
Tue., May 6, 2008

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