Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Hiawatha

Artist:
Edmonia Lewis (American, 1844–1907)
Date:
1868
Geography:
Made in Rome, Italy
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
13 3/4 × 7 3/4 × 5 1/2 in. (34.9 × 19.7 × 14 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Morris K. Jesup and Friends of the American Wing Funds, 2015
Accession Number:
2015.287.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 759
Like many American sculptors of the nineteenth century, Lewis, an artist of African-American and Chippewa (Ojibwa) ancestry, worked in Rome. Her multiracial identity and her gender were formative in her selection of subjects. In addition to pieces addressing abolition and emancipation, between 1866 and 1872 she completed a series of marble sculptures on the popular theme of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, drawn from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” (1855). These cabinet-sized busts (2015.287.1, 2015.287.2) represent the star-crossed lovers from once-warring nations (Ojibwa and Dakota) and blend an idealized treatment of form with Native dress and accessories.
Inscription: Inscribed (on tablet): HIAWATHA
Isabel Ramirez Scorza, Yonkers, N.Y., ca. mid 1950s-d. 2001; by descent in family, 2001-2015
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