On the first day of Black History Month, Google is honoring a pioneering African-American woman, Edmonia Lewis. Edmonia was the first African-American woman to receive international recognition for being a sculptor, and her career was beyond admirable. Get to know the Google Doodle here!
1. She had a difficult childhood
Edmonia Lewis’ parents both died by the time she was nine years old, and she and her half brother were adopted by her maternal aunts. She flourished in their care, though, and attended the prestigious Oberlin College, which is where she began studying art.
2. She had shocking legal trouble in college
Edmonia and two friends were getting ready to go out one evening, when the friends fell terribly ill from drinking spiced wine, which Edmonia served them. They were found with poison in their system, but because they survived, no legal action was taken. However, not everyone in the area was convinced, and Edmonia was assaulted badly beaten while walking home one night. She was charged with poisoning the girls, but eventually acquitted. Her remaining time at Oberlin was not pleasant, though, and she never wound up graduating.
3. She had trouble starting a sculpting career
After moving to Boston to pursue sculpting, Edmonia initially had trouble finding an instructor, until Edward A. Brackett finally agreed who work with her. The pair’s working relationship did not end on a good note, but Edmonia learned enough to open a studio in 1864.
4. She did most of her work overseas
Moderate success allowed Edmonia to travel to Rome in 1866, which is where she stayed for most of her career. Eventually, she discovered international fame, and her works began selling for incredible amounts of money. One of her most well known pieces was The Death Of Cleopatra, a 3,000 pound marble sculpture which was featured in Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition in 1876.
5. She led a fairly secluded life
Edmonia never married or had children, although she had one nephew from her half brother. She died when she was just 63 years old of Bright’s, a kidney disease.
HollywoodLifers, what were you most surprised to learn about Edmonia?