Laura Dreyfus Barney

born Cincinnati, OH 1879-died Paris, France 1974
Media - 1951.14.64 - SAAM-1951.14.64_1 - 1317
Alice Pike Barney, Medusa (Laura Dreyfus Barney), 1892, pastel on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum,Gift of Laura Dreyfus Barney and Natalie Clifford Barney in memory of their mother, Alice Pike Barney 1951.14.64.
Also known as
  • Laura Alice Barney
  • Laura Dreyfus-Barney
  • Laura Barney
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Paris, France
Active in
  • Washington, District of Columbia, United States
  • American

Laura Dreyfus Barney was a daughter of the painter, playwright, and art patron Alice Pike Barney. The Barneys were a wealthy family of philanthropists, and Laura's reputation as a sculptor was overshadowed by her social activism. She is best remembered for the nude statue she made of her sister, Natalie Clifford Barney. It was installed on the family's front lawn and caused such a commotion that the police finally covered it with a tarp. She studied sculpture in France, and during World War I served in the American Ambulance Corps in Paris and the American Red Cross in Marseilles; she also helped create the first children's hospital in Avignon. Barney later was a consultant to the League of Nations and the United Nations. In 1937 she was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor.