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Race and Racism in Nineteenth-Century ArtThe Ascendency of Robert Duncanson, Edward Bannister, and Edmonia Lewis$
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Naurice Frank Woods Jr.

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781496834348

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2022

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496834348.001.0001

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Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. 1844–1907)

Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. 1844–1907)

(p.125) Chapter Three Mary Edmonia Lewis (ca. 1844–1907)
Race and Racism in Nineteenth-Century Art

Naurice Frank Woods Jr.

George Dimock

University Press of Mississippi

Afro-Indian sculptor, Edmonia Lewis, exhibited a startling marble sculpture entitled The Death of Cleopatra at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 to considerable attention from art critics and the public. The fact that Lewis enjoyed so lofty a position among the art makers of the nineteenth century was remarkable given the prejudices experienced by members of her race and gender at that time. Indeed, her path to the Centennial was the most improbable of all the exhibiting artists and her rise to prominence as an internationally celebrated sculptor stands as one of the most unique and intriguing stories in the annals of American art. Thus, this chapter examines closely a true pioneering feminist of the nineteenth century who leveraged her biracial identity and gender to achieve global interest, success, and reward.

Keywords:   Edmonia Lewis, Biracial identity, Female nineteenth-century sculptors, Charlotte Cushman, Death of Cleopatra

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