Ferdinand Pettrich

born Dresden, Germany 1798-died Rome, Italy 1872
Media - portrait_image_114966.jpg - 129325
Ferdinand Pettrich, Self Portrait, 1840, painted plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum,Museum acquisition XX24.
Also known as
  • Frederick Augustus Ferdinand Pettrich
  • Ferdinand Frederick August Pettrich
  • Ferdinand August Pettrich
  • Friedrich August Pettrich
  • Frederick August Pettrich
  • Frederick August Ferdinand Pettrich
Dresden, Germany
Rome, Italy
Active in
  • Washington, District of Columbia, United States
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • American

Ferdinand Pettrich grew up in the city of Dresden, Germany, and apprenticed to his father Franz Johann Pettrich, a court sculptor for the king of Saxony. When he was twenty-one, he traveled to Rome to study with the internationally known Danish sculptor and teacher Albert B. Thorvaldsen. In 1835, Pettrich traveled to America with his wife and settled in Washington, where he modeled portrait busts of political figures and visiting Native Americans. In 1842 he was stabbed in his Washington studio and to recuperate moved to Brazil’s warmer climate. He became the court sculptor for Emperor Dom Pedro II and carved monumental statues of the monarch and his court officials before returning to Europe. Pettrich settled in Rome where, after he presented his sculptures of Native Americans to the Museum of St. John Lateran, the Vatican honored him with a life-term papal pension.