Of New England ancestry, Partridge was born in Paris, where his father was foreign representative of the merchant and art collector A. T. Stewart. Returning to America, Partridge attended Adelphi Academy in Brooklyn and Columbia University in New York City in 1885. After three years abroad studying art in Florence, Rome, and Paris, he decided to concentrate on sculpture, although he also devoted time to writing poetry and articles on art as well as lecturing on aesthetics. Between 1887 and 1889, he worked with the Polish sculptor Pio Welonski in Rome. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he exhibited several portrait busts and statues of Alexander Hamilton and William Shakespeare. Along with portrait busts, he continued to receive commissions for statuary monuments and religious statuary for cemeteries and churches. Early in his career his studio was in Milton, Massachusetts, but in later years he worked in New York City, where he died in 1930.
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)
William Ordway Partridge studied at Adelphi Academy and Columbia College in New York. After graduating, he traveled to Europe to study art and exhibited at the Paris Salon when he was only twenty years old. He returned to New York three years later and became a public speaker to support himself while he sculpted, winning fame for his readings of Keats, Shelley, and Shakespeare. He also published his own poetry and articles on art, and lectured at many major universities. Partridge’s first large bronze, of Alexander Hamilton, stands at the entrance to the Hamilton Club in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. He created many imaginative sculptures of famous writers and poets, and more than fifty portrait busts of distinguished men in New York.