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 Hendersons’ monument of research and craftsmanship seeks to give Lewis the consideration that she has been denied—not dissimilar to the artist’s 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 Lewis’s 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.  "Lewis’s 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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Links - images, museums, galleries, articles, videos, etc.


March 26 - Swann Galleries Auction POSTPONED

Feb 20 - Cowan's Auction

Feb 15  - Queens of Queen City, `Suhkuhegarequa “Wildfire” Edmonia Lewis' Article on Edmonia Lewis's connections to Cincinnati. 


Sidedoor: "Finding Cleopatra." podcast  Edmonia Lewis was the first American woman of color to achieve international fame as a sculptor. Her 3,000-pound masterwork, “The Death of Cleopatra,” commemorated another powerful woman who broke with convention… and then the sculpture disappeared. On this episode of Sidedoor, Lizzie Peabody interviews Marilyn Richardson, Kirsten Pai Buick and Karen Lemmey.

Alice George, "Sculptor Edmonia Lewis shattered gender and race expectations in 19th-century America."  Smithsonian Magazine.  Aug. 22, 2019.  The Smithsonian Museums hold the largest collection of Edmonia Lewis's works.

Edmonia Lewis's 1869 marble Bust of an Unidentified Woman was recently acquired by Bowdoin College Museum of Art, located in Brunswick, Maine. 

June - In its "Overlooked No More" series of obituaries, the New York Times described the life of sculptor Emma Stebbins (1815-1882), who was a friend of Edmonia Lewis and a fan of her work,

March 28 - Swann Auction


October 2018  Marble busts of  Hiawatha and Minnehaha, recently acquired, are on display at Prendergast Galleries, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA. Closed for summer 2019

August 20. Leslie Anderson, curator, reports Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah has acquired a set of marble busts of Hiawatha and Minnehaha.

May 22.  Edmonia Lewis / She inspires. Video aired on WMHT.  1:08 

May 8. At Oberlin College, Edmonia Lewis Center for Women, Transgender People shuts down - but called "a success."

March 29. 1:30pm  Lot 47.Collection of cartes-de-visite photos  83 mostly cartes-de-visite photos.  "This may be a previously unknown image of Lewis."  Estimate $6,000 - 9,000 Price realized: $47,500 with buyer's premium.

January: The Art History Babes: Edmonia Lewis. podcast, approx 1 hour. http://www.arthistorybabes.com/podcast/2018/1/22/edmonia-lewis


October, Black History Month UK

Bobbie Reno provided photos, before and after, of Edmonia Lewis's grave in London, England.  Congratulations to Bobbie and to all who contributed and cheered her onward!

April-June: Bobbie Reno raised funds to mark and restore Edmonia Lewis's grave in London.

April: The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry is Tyehimba Jess, for Olio, "a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity." Many of the poems focus on Edmonia Lewis and her works.

Feb. 24: The Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA, unveiled a copy of Minnehaha, by Edmonia Lewis.

Mount Auburn Cemetery: "Black History Month, Edmonia Lewis"  2017. text and 5-min.video: "earth.sky: An American in Rome," by Roberto Mighty.

Google Arts and Culture: "Edmonia Lewis. Explore the Life and Work of the Acclaimed 19th-Century African American and Native American sculptor."  Black History Month, 2017

Feb 1: Google Doodles Celebrate Edmonia Lewis

Until Jan. 28, 2017: ACA Galleries NY "On a Night Such as This. A Celebration of African-American Art." includes "Hiawatha," by Edmonia Lewis.529 W 20th St #5E, New York, NY 10011 (212) 206-8080.


Nov.22, 2016 Lot 15. Minnehaha bust, marble, signed and dated. 12" Bonhams New York American Art sold for $37,500 incl. premium.

Sept.: New book by Synthia Saint James,"I am Edmonia Lewis and I am Wildfire. A Monologue."  Edmonia Lewis's words and thoughts echoing through the decades make for a dramatic reading. YA

June: Now on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City Fifth Avenue in Gallery 759 -Acquired in 2015:Hiawatha and Minnehaha busts.

May 21.  Lot 301. Hiawatha, after Edmonia Lewis. marble, unsigned, 13.5"  Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Thomaston, ME.

April  Minnehaha bust 1868 offered by Lucien Zakay, Atlanta, GA.

Apr. 5. Edmonia Lewis finds a new voice in  "Olio,"  by poet Tyehimba Jess.


Nov. 4, 2015"The Life and Death of Edmonia Lewis, Spinster and Sculptor," by Talia Lavin, provides interesting information on Edmonia Lewis's grave and art historian Marilyn Richardson.

Sept. 19, 2015 “Sepia Sculptress The Life and Trials of Edmonia Lewis," written and performed by Caroline Stephanie Clay, at the Kennedy Center. FREE

Sept. 14, 2015 NEWLY DISCOVERED"Bust of Christ" (1870) commissioned by the 3d Marquess of Bute, who became Lewis's patron in 1869. Located at Mount Stewart, off the west coast of Scotland, it is not currently on public display. The collection can be viewed on request, contact: archive@mountstuart.com  Read how Bute saved the day for her in our award-winning biography.

Sept. 10-Oct.9, 2015 A pair of 1868 busts, Hiawatha and Minnehaha, is offered by the Gerald Peters Galley in New York City as part of its "A Different Perspective" exhibition.

2015 "Hiawatha" - 13.5" high, sold by Charleston Renaissance Galleries, Charleston SC.

March 25, 2015 "Minnehaha" - 11.75" high, white marble, signed - was offered at auction. See http://edmonialewis.com/auction_values.htm for auction activity.

Feb. 26, 2015 University of New Mexico professor Kirsten Pai Buick, author of Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject (Duke 2010), is the winner of this year’s David C. Driskell Prize..

Jan. 1, 2015: Rebecca at the Well. signed, 42 1/2" high offered at auction by Fine Arts Auctions. Passed. Find links to another "Rebekah" below.


July 4, 2014: The "Edmonia" T-Shirt pattern by Amy Christoffers. "The simple open neck and light drape of this top-down pullover reminds me of the style of blouse nineteenth-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis might have worn." 

May 3, 2014: The Smithsonian American Art Museum, which owns the largest collection of Edmonia Lewis’s works, will make its digitized collection open to developers so they can build it into educational apps.

Details at http://www.artfixdaily.com/news_feed/2014/05/12/9236-smithsonian-collection-to-be-open-for-app-developers

Hagar in the Wilderness

  by Tyehimba Jess

Hagar in the Wilderness

  by Tyehimba Jess

Mar. 22, 2014: Howling Monk's video examines The Death of Cleopatra in wonderful detail.


Dec. 26, 2013: Hagar in the Wilderness, a poem by Tyehimba Bess.  

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on December 26, 2013. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23816#sthash.9sQGHOQX.dpuf
Tyehimba Jes

Nov. 2013: 3-D replicas are showing up in museums. I saw a 3-D Sphinx at the Peabody Museum in New Haven the other day. Here's the Old Arrowmaker in plastic! Again. And again.  Someone is doing The Death of Cleopatra "Scanned and Printed for history lessons." Sorry I don't have more details at this time. Check out the Smithsonian X 3 D conference in mid-November.

July 13, 2013: The Victorian Society of America/New England Chapter recently recognized Mount Auburn Cemetery with a Preservation Award for its conservation work on "Hygeia," by Edmonia Lewis, a memorial to Boston's first female physician, Harriot K. Hunt, and other projects. Photos by Christopher Busta-Peck taken in 2007 provide wonderful detailed views of this fragile work.

The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, purchased Edmonia Lewis's 1871 medallion portrait of Wendell Phillips, champion of the abolitionist movement.

The Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama, acquired marble busts of Hiawatha and Minnehaha from Marilyn Richardson. https://artsbma.org/visit/visitor-information/

Portraits of the artist

March 29, 2018 1:30pm  Lot 47.Collection of cartes-de-visite photos  83 mostly cartes-de-visite photos.  "This may be a previously unknown image of Lewis." 

Jan. 16, 2013: The Walters Art Museum of Baltimore announced the discovery of a new portrait photograph of Edmonia Lewis taken in Rome around 1874-1876. By this time she had become an international symbol of 'colored' achievement. The Walters also owns a copy of her bust of Dio Lewis (find link below). Congratulations to Jacqueline Copeland for the discovery and verification. Read the press release here.

The cover of The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis is based on a portrait appearing in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Leslie visited Edmonia Lewis in Rome in 1867, shortly after the World's Fair in Paris. This engraving, replicating a photo taken in Boston no later than 1865, is the earliest known likeness. The original carte de visite photo, by Augustus Marshall, was found in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1870, Edmonia Lewis posed for a series of carte de visite photos by Chicago's leading portrait photographer, Henry Rocher. Thanks to the bequest of Evert Jansen Wendell, they can be found at the Harvard Art Museum. http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/201999   http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/201876  http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/202171  http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/174224  http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/174646

From the 1870 Rocher series, Edmonia Lewis's carte de visite is one of the displays of the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits.

America Meredith, a member of the Cherokee Nation, painted this portrait of Edmonia Lewis, which is now in the permanent collection of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, Norman OK. She wrote that she talks about Lewis "at the beginnings of Native American art history classes, because she subverts all proposed narratives and she's one of the first Native artists to succeed in the international arts arena."


The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery AL spotlighted an 1868 carving of Hiawatha's Marriage, one of Edmonia Lewis's most successful images. The web site includes a comparison by curator Michael W. Panhorst of the six known versions of the Marriage  and a commentary on Lewis's art. 

For Black History Month, 2012, the Washington Post highlighted the Death of Cleopatra at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington DC.

The newly opened Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, includes a copy of The Old Arrow Maker. Plan your visit and reserve tickets here. There is no cost to view the Museum’s permanent collection, which is on view year-round.

Cleveland Museum of Art acquired a scene from Edmonia Lewis's Native American roots last seen at auction: Three American Indians in Battle a/k/a  Indians Wrestling or Indian Combat.   (No title is inscribed.) sold at Gabriel's, Nov. 2010.  

A marble portrait bust by Edmonia Lewis of James P. Thomas, who went from Tennessee slave to St. Louis Entrepreneur, is at Oberlin College. Photo by Christopher Busta-Peck.

Photographs by Christopher Busta-Peck of Rebekah, 1880, or Rebecca at the Well  (private collection).More photos, more detail.  SIRIS describes a similar Rebecca at the Well dated 1871. 

In 2011, researcher Holly Solano discovered this antique photo of the lost Adoration of the Magi (1883) in a Baltimore MD church.

Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art will provide a permanent home for the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies, including The Wooing of Hiawatha  (The Old Arrow Maker) by Edmonia Lewis.  

An 1871 copy of The Marriage of Hiawatha is on long-term loan to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Stark Museum of Art, Orange, TX, shows a copy of Hiawatha's Marriage carved in 1874.

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Ga., received a gift of Columbus, a rare carving depicting an explorer and a young Native American woman, attributed to Edmonia Lewis. The pose follows Forever Free, but the woman's nudity is unusual for Lewis.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum panorama including The Death of Cleopatra, Moses, Hagar in the Wilderness, The Old Arrowmaker and His Daughter (The Wooing of Hiawatha), Poor Cupid, and a photo portrait of the artist. The Smithsonian museums are free admission to all.

In Alabama, the Legacy Museum at Tuskegee University calls its Edmonia Lewis masterpieces - Awake/Asleep and Old ArrowMaker - the sine quibus non of its collection.

Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Edmonia Lewis in Italy (video). 2006.

Edmonia Lewis Sculptures, wonderfully detailed photographs by Christopher Busta-Peck.

Bust of a Woman in peasant dress (contadina) was seen N'Namdi Gallery -- now the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit. 

Denise Ward Brown, "Mary Edmonia Lewis -- Female Sculptor. (video). [Sorry, link is gone.]

Edmonia Lewis often sang "John Brown's favorite hymn," Blow Ye, The Trumpet Blow.

Doreen Bolger presents Baltimore Museum of Art's African American Artist Collection (video).


EARLY SCULPTURES MODELED 1864-1867 (not all-inclusive)

Bust of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw at the Museum of African American History in Boston MA. marble copy of Edmonia's first celebrated portrait. A photo of the 1864 plaster bust is paired with a photo of Col. Shaw in The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis.    

Bust of Maria Weston Chapman (1865) Weymouth (MA) Public Library.  The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis compares a photo of Mrs. Chapman with a photo of the bust.   This is perhaps the first portrait bust Lewis did from life.

Bust of Dioclesian Lewis Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD. Edmonia Lewis modeled this portrait in plaster, in Boston, before sailing to Rome, where she rendered it in marble to enthusiastic reviews from America.

For all known descriptions of Edmonia Lewis's first ideal Emancipation group, The Freedwoman on First Hearing of Her Liberty (1866; lost) The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis.

The Marriage of Hiawatha at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts;  

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery AL spotlights an 1868 carving of Hiawatha's Marriage, one of Edmonia Lewis's most successful images. The web site includes a comparison by curator Michael W. Panhorst of the six known versions of the Marriage, which are not identical, and a commentary on Lewis's art.

An 1871 copy of The Marriage of Hiawatha is on long-term loan to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

The Old Arrow Maker is at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Modeled in 1866, this example was carved in 1872.

The Wooing of Hiawatha (Old Arrow Maker) at Savannah College of Art and Design Museum.

Forever Free at Howard University, Washington DC, Lewis's second Emancipation work.

High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA, acquired this marble group, Columbus with a young Native-American woman, attributed to Edmonia.



The earliest mention of Hagar, Lewis's third Emancipation work, dates to early 1868. According to the artist, it portrays the moment Hagar met the angel in Genesis, "What ails thee, Hagar?" It was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, 1871. This copy at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is marked 1875.More details here.

Three American Indians in Battle a/k/a  Indians Wrestling or Indian Combat (No title is inscribed). It is an ambitious 30 inch. high  marble group, signed and dated 1868. Now on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  

Minnehaha and Hiawatha busts at Howard University, Washington DC.

Minnehaha bust at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Hiawatha and Minnehaha busts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City Fifth Avenue in Gallery 759 -Acquired in 2015.  Also, at the Newark Museum,  49 Washington Street, Newark NY. Purchased in 2000.


MODELED 1869-73

Bust of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (modeled 1869, carved 1871) at Harvard University Art Museums.

Bust of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (carved 1872) at Walker Gallery, British National Museums, Liverpool.

San Jose Library, San Jose CA, three reminders of Lewis's 1873 visit to the West Coast can be seen in the library's California Room. "Asleep" won a Gold Medal at Naples. They are illustrated in The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis.

Baltimore Museum of Art video includes Lewis's putti (little boys) as Doreen Bolger tours the African American collection.

Portrait of a Woman with a rose in her hair, 1873, at St. Louis Art Museum. Photo of Christopher Busta-Peck. Admission to the museum is free to all.


MODELED 1878-1883 

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City owns a plaster bust of an unidentified African-American pastor (1879), illustrated in  The Indomitable Spirit of Edmonia Lewis.

Cowan's Auctions of Cincinnati: 'Veiled' Bride of Spring. (1879) 

Skinner Auctioneers: Allegorical Maiden, Spring.

Rebekah, (1880), photographed by Christopher Busta-Peck (private collection).

Recently discovered photo of the lost Adoration of the Magi (1883), Baltimore MD.











Last updated 03/31/2020