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Moses (after Michelangelo)

1875 Edmonia Lewis Born: Greenbush, New York 1844 Died: London, England 1907 Copy after Michelangelo Born: Caprese, Italy 1475 Died: Rome, Italy 1564 marble 26 3/4 x 11 1/2 x 13 5/8 in. (68.0 x 29.2 x 34.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred T. Morris, Jr. 1984.149.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 19B


Luce Center Quote

“I thought I knew everything when I came to Rome, but I soon found I had everything to learn.” Edmonia Lewis, quoted in Romare Bearden, A History of African-American Artists, 1993

Luce Center Label

Edmonia Lewis developed her skills in Rome by copying classical sculptures. These copies would often be sold to American tourists, providing a much-needed source of income. The original sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo, completed around 1515, stands in the tomb of Pope Julius II in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. To a black female sculptor, the opportunity to emulate such an exalted artist’s work must have meant a great deal. The figure of Moses himself may also have been an inspiration. By rescuing the Israelites from Egypt, Moses exemplified the desire for freedom felt by many blacks during the nineteenth century.

Keywords

Religion - Old Testament - Moses

sculpture

stone - marble

carved

About Edmonia Lewis

Born: Greenbush, New York 1844 Died: London, England 1907

About Copy after Michelangelo

Born: Caprese, Italy 1475 Died: Rome, Italy 1564

More works in the collection by
Edmonia Lewis

More works in the collection by
Copy after Michelangelo