The Death of Cleopatra
by Edmonia Lewis
Smithsonian American Art Museum
With Permission of Smithsonian American Art Museum
Edmonia Lewis was an American sculptor of African and Native-American descent.
Edmonia Lewis was an American sculptor of African and Native-American descent. She excelled in her craft despite the racism and sexism she faced from her contemporaries. The artist attended Oberlin college in 1859, and while the school was hailed as progressive at the time, Lewis faced a lot of prejudice, an attempt was made on her life, and she was falsely accused of stealing from the school. Even though eventually her charges were dropped, she was not allowed to complete her education. She eventually moved to Rome where she was able to solidify her career, making her most famous work “The Death of Cleopatra” during this time. The artwork received a mix of reviews, some said that it was a masterful marble sculpture, others scored it for being too graphic and disturbing. Unlike most other sculptors of her time, she could not hire help to carve her sculptures, so most of her work was made with entirely the artist’s own hands.
Although Edmonia Lewis created masterful works of art, she was overlooked in her time due to the narrow expectations of the art world. Luckily, in recent times, her work is being appreciated how it should have been when she was alive. The artist and her work broke boundaries and stand as pillars of inspiration.
Page created on 3/8/2021 10:49:58 PM
Last edited 3/22/2021 5:43:48 PM