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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Harriet G. Hosmer

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Miss Hosmer also modeled a fountain from the story of Hylas. The lower basin contains dolphins spouting jets, while in the upper basin, supported by swans, the youth Hylas stands, surrounded by the nymphs who admire his beauty, and who eventually draw him into the water, where he is drowned.

Miss Hosmer returned to America in 1857, five years after her departure. She was still young, twenty-seven, vivacious, hopeful, not wearied from her hard work, and famous. While here she determined upon a statue of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, and read much concerning her and her times. She had touched fiction and poetry; now she would attempt history. She could scarcely have chosen a more heroic or pathetic subject. The brave leader of a brave people, a skilful warrior, marching at the head of her troops, now on foot, and now on horseback, beautiful in face, and cultured in mind, acquainted with Latin, Greek, Syriac, and Egyptian, finally captured by Aurelian, and borne through the streets of Rome, adorning his triumphal procession.

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After Miss Hosmer's return to Rome, she worked on "Zenobia" with energy and enthusiasm, as she molded the clay, and then the plaster. When brought to this country, it awakened the greatest interest; crowds gathered to see it. In Chicago it was exhibited at the Sanitary Fair in behalf of the soldiers. Whittier said: "It very fully expresses my conception of what historical sculpture should be. It tells its whole proud and melancholy story. In looking at it, I felt that the artist had been as truly serving her country while working out her magnificent design abroad, as our soldiers in the field, and our public officers in their departments." From its exhibition Miss Hosmer received five thousand dollars. It was purchased by Mr. A.W. Griswold, of New York. So great a work was the statue considered in London, that some of the papers declared Gibson to be its author. Miss Hosmer at once began suits for libel, and retractions were speedily made.

In 1860 Miss Hosmer again visited America, to see her father, who was seriously ill. How proud Dr. Hosmer must have been of his gifted daughter now that her fame was in two hemispheres! Surely he had not "spoiled" her. She could now spend for him as he had spent for her in her childhood. While here, she received a commission from St. Louis for a bronze portrait-statue of Missouri's famous statesman, Thomas Hart Benton. The world wondered if she could bring out of the marble a man with all his strength and dignity, as she had a woman with all her grace and nobility.

She visited St. Louis, to examine portraits and mementos of Colonel Benton, and then hastened across the ocean to her work. The next year a photograph of the model was sent to the friends, and the likeness pronounced good. The statue was cast at the great royal foundry at Munich, and in due time shipped to this country. May 27, 1868, it was unveiled in Lafayette Park, in the presence of an immense concourse of people, the daughter, Mrs. John C. Fremont, removing the covering. The statue is ten feet high, and weighs three and one-half tons. It rests on a granite pedestal, ten feet square, the whole being twenty-two feet square. On the west side of the pedestal are the words from Colonel Benton's famous speech on the Pacific Railroad, "There is the East--there is India." Both press and people were heartily pleased with this statue, for which Miss Hosmer received ten thousand dollars, the whole costing thirty thousand.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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