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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Harriet G. Hosmer

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After completing her studies she made a trip to New Orleans, and then North to the Falls of St. Anthony, smoking the pipe of peace with the chief of the Dakota Indians, exploring lead mines in Dubuque, and scaling a high mountain that was soon after named for her. Did the wealthy girl go alone on these journeys? Yes. As a rule, no harm comes to a young woman who conducts herself with becoming reserve with men. Flirts usually are paid in their own coin.

On her return home, Dr. Hosmer fitted up a studio for his daughter, and her first work was to copy from the antique. Then she cut Canova's "Napoleon" in marble for her father, doing all the work, that he might especially value the gift. Her next statue was an ideal bust of Hesper, "with," said Lydia Maria Child, "the face of a lovely maiden gently falling asleep with the sound of distant music. Her hair is gracefully arranged, and intertwined with capsules of the poppy. A star shines on her forehead, and under her breast lies the crescent moon. The swell of the cheeks and the bust is like pure, young, healthy flesh, and the muscles of the beautiful mouth so delicately cut, it seems like a thing that breathes. She did every stroke of the work with her own small hands, except knocking off the corners of the block of marble. She employed a man to do that; but as he was unused to work for sculptors, she did not venture to have him approach within several inches of the surface she intended to cut. Slight girl as she was, she wielded for eight or ten hours a day a leaden mallet weighing four pounds and a half. Had it not been for the strength and flexibility of muscle acquired by rowing and other athletic exercises, such arduous labor would have been impossible."

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After "Hesper" was completed, she said to her father, "I am ready to go to Rome."

"You shall go, my child, this very autumn," was the response.

He would, of course, miss the genial companionship of his only child, but her welfare was to be consulted rather than his own. When autumn came, she rode on horseback to Wayland to say good-bye to Mrs. Child. "Shall you never be homesick for your museum-parlor in Watertown? Can you be contented in a foreign land?"

"I can be happy anywhere," said Miss Hosmer, "with good health and a bit of marble."

Late in the fall Dr. Hosmer and his daughter started for Europe, reaching Rome Nov. 12, 1852. She had greatly desired to study under John Gibson, the leading English sculptor, but he had taken young women into his studio who in a short time became discouraged or showed themselves afraid of hard work, and he feared Miss Hosmer might be of the same useless type.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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