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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Sculpture: 19th century: Anna Quincy Waterston
Anna Quincy Waterston

Anna Quincy Waterston
about 1866
Edmonia Lewis
11 7/8 x 7 1/4 x 5 1/8 in. (30.2 x 18.5 x 12.9 cm.)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dr. Richard Frates


Edmonia Lewis in Italy 7.8MB

"Tis fitting that a daughter of the race

Whose chains are breaking should receive a gift

So rare as genius. Neither power nor place,

Fashion or wealth, pride, custom, caste nor hue

Can arrogantly claim what God doth lift

Above these chances, and bestows on few."

Excerpt from "Edmonia Lewis," a poem by Anna Quincy Waterston, 1864

Edmonia Lewis often carved portraits of her patrons, either for a commission or as an expression of thanks. This piece depicts the poet Anna Quincy Waterston who, with her husband Reverend Robert C. Waterston, helped Lewis raise the money to pay for the first marbles she carved in Rome. The sculpture shows an elegant woman with a composed expression and a hint of a smile. The elaborate hairstyle and decorative clothing suggest a lady of wealth and importance in nineteenth-century society.

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