Edmonia Lewis (c) A. Henderson      


NOW AVAILABLE: The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis. A Narrative Biography,  by Harry Henderson ( co-author of A History of African American Art from 1792 to the Present) and Albert Henderson, winner of the eLit GOLD award: "Illuminating Digital Publishing Excellence." Independent Opinion:  "The Hendersonsí monument of research and craftsmanship seeks to give Lewis the consideration that she has been deniedónot dissimilar to the artistís own commitment to proving her competitors and critics wrong, demonstrating that a minority could take on the hegemonic tradition of fine arts. The book provides crystalline accounts of Lewisís feuds and mentorships, as well as rich illustrations of the works being discussed throughout. Overall, the authors deliver a well-constructed mix of primary resources, critical analysis and literary flourishes." - Kirkus Reviews. "Thank you so much for your excellent research ... Your work on Edmonia Lewis will be used for many years to come by scholars, art historians, art collectors and anyone interested in knowing more about this outstanding woman"  - Dr. Sheryl Colyer.  "Lewisís story is all at once interesting and sad. Her life, while forgotten for a while is now making a come back among art historians and this immense work helps to secure her artistic legacy." Lifelong Dewey   "A key acquisition for any arts or African-American history holding. The authors' attention to precise scholarship provides all the details of a solid linear history and biography but the end result is anything but dry: it reads with the passion and drama of good literature." Midwest Book Review  "A definitive biography" Washington Times  "5.0 of 5 stars" - Links Goodreads

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The Adoration of the Magi --

The biographical chapter on Edmonia Lewis in Bearden-Henderson, History of African American Artists from 1792, (Pantheon, 1993; out-of-print) wrote, 


In 1883 Bullard reported that Lewis had completed an unusual bas-relief in marble for a church in Baltimore. It depicted the infant Jesus attended by three adoring "wise men" with definite racial characteristics -- Caucasian, Asian, and African. "Of the three, the African is given the greater prominence," wrote Bullard. [Woman's Journal, Mar. 10, 1883] 


The work, installed at the Episcopal Chapel of St. Mary's the Virgin, was lost due to a fire. Researcher Holly Solano discovered a photo of it in 2011. She wrote, in part,


When I researched the church, with the fire, the rebuild, the highway demolition and move to a new building, I figured it was the trifecta of a dead end. But I just felt compelled to go visit  (I am a photographer, too, and they have lovely stained glass in their new building) so I made an appointment. I was wrapping up my photography of their stained glass when Leatrice (the office administrator) came to check on me and say that I seemed to be interested in old stuff and she had some old photos she thought I might find interesting. I was excited (as you can probably imagine) when I was initially shown their photo of the original Orchard Street church interior. But I was crestfallen upon examining the altar in the photo and discovering it was covered with what looked like renaissance style (gold background) paintings, and not sculpture at all, as all the sources I had described Magi as an "altarpiece." Leatrice said some of the "old-timers" said the church was very decorated, and some of the sculptures were made of marble and came from famous sculptors in Rome, Italy. I commented that Edmonia Lewis had her studio in Rome and worked in marble. Then I was shown 1932 article from the Afro American (Baltimore) newspaper framed and hanging on the wall, describing the church's history. When I started to read it, I discovered that the article identified the sculpture, the artist, its description, and location - ...a rerodos hanging OVER the altar... When I spun around (literally) in the hallway to re-examine the photo of the church interior, there it was, in the photo, hanging over the altar. I had been looking at the altar, not OVER it. The evidence was sitting in plain sight the whole time!

Detail courtesy of and copyright Holly Solano

More about this work in The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis. A Narrative Biography.






















last edited 04/23/2019