November 11, 1864

Sculptor Edmonia Lewis Displays Work in Boston

Greater Boston

On this day in 1864, sculptor Edmonia Lewis exhibited two of her early pieces at the Colored Soldiers' Fair in Boston. The daughter of a Native American woman and a black man, Lewis was the first American of color to earn an international reputation as a sculptor. At the Soldiers' Fair, she showed a full-length figure of Sergeant William H. Carney and a marble bust of the martyred Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, both heroes of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. By 1865, Lewis had earned enough money from her work to leave Boston for Europe. While she made periodic trips back to the U.S., she built an extraordinarily successful career in Rome, employing as many as six assistants in her studio.

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