Great Washington Museums: The United States Capitol

Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists is a NMWA-organized collaborative city-wide project highlighting works by women artists. During 2012, institutions throughout the Washington area are featuring an array of signature works by women artists that have enriched their distinguished collections. This landmark program, in conjunction with NMWA’s 25th anniversary celebration, continues NMWA’s dedication to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. This excerpt explores one of the the U.S. Capitol’s signature works by a woman artist, Vinnie Ream’s statue of Abraham Lincoln. Visit www.nmwa.org and download the pdf map to begin your journey!

Vinnie Ream, Abraham Lincoln, 1870; Marble, statue 83 x 29 ¾ x 29 in.; United States Congress; Photograph courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Vinnie Ream, Abraham Lincoln, 1870; Marble, statue 83 x 29 ¾ x 29 in.; United States Congress; Photograph courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

Vinnie Ream’s statue of Abraham Lincoln is the first work of art commissioned by the United States government from a woman artist. Ream (later Vinnie Ream Hoxie) was only 18 years old when the Congress commissioned it in 1866. She had previously sculpted a bust of Lincoln. After making a full-size model for the statue in her Capitol studio, she took it to Italy for carving. The statue, completed in 1870, was installed in the Capitol in 1871. Lincoln is shown looking pensively at the Emancipation Proclamation in his right hand. Later, the sculptor created two statues for the National Statuary Hall Collection. On permanent display in the Capitol Rotunda.

Architect of the Capitol; Website: www.aoc.gov

One thought on “Great Washington Museums: The United States Capitol

  1. I had the pleasure of representing the National League of American Pen Women on the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration in 2009 and was at the Rotunda for the official ceremony on February 12. It was wonderful to see President Obama and all the other leaders standing near Vinnie’s work. It’s wonderful to see your page to help make others aware that such a young woman created the statue. Later in 2009 the NLAPW board members laid roses at Vinnie’s grave in Arlington.National Cemetery to remember her wonderful contributions to the arts, the League and to the country with her works. Vinnie is remembered fondly by all. N Taylor Collins, Past National President, NLAPW

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