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 Adolph Alexander Weinman  (1870 - 1952)

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Lived/Active: New York / Germany      Known for: classical figure sculpture, medalist

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Ad Code: 2
Adolph Alexander Weinman
from Auction House Records.
Chief Black Bird... Ogalalla Sioux
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Adolph Alexander Weinman is best known for his architectural sculpture and for designing the "Walking Liberty" on the half-dollar and ten-cent coins of 1916. Weinman was born in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1870 and came to the United States at the age of ten.  Weinmann first studied at the Cooper Union School in New York and later at the Art Students League in New York.  For five years he studied at the studio of the sculptor, Philip Martiny, and improved his artistic skills as a student of the famous Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Weinman opened a studio in New York, where his figure sculptures were well received.  By 1906 he was elected a member of the National Academy.  Works by Weinman can be found in a number of museum collections, including the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Weinman also helped Malvina Hoffman establish a class in anatomy for artists at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1914.  Weinman and several other sculptors wrote letters of support urging the necessity of such a class, especially for sculptors.  Although Weinman's sketchbook may represent lessons from an anatomical chart, he joined the class, which met twice a week from 1914 to 1916, to sketch from skeletons and cadavers. (Adolph Alexander Weinman lecture delivered to the Pen and Brush Club, May 4, 1948).


Adolph Alexander Weinman Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Karges Fine Art,

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:

Adolph Alexander Weinman was a successful and prolific American sculptors of the early twentieth century. He was known for architectural, outdoor, and free-standing sculpture.

Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Weinman settled in New York in 1880 with his widowed mother. He was apprenticed to a wood and ivory carver at the age of fifteen. By the turn of the century, he was studying at Cooper Union School, the Art Students League, and subsequently spent several years in the studios of Philip Martiny, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Daniel Chester French. Given his native talent and extensive education with and exposure to the leading artists in the field, Weinman developed a mastery of sculptural mediums, genres, and techniques. He opened his own New York studio in 1904, and exhibited that year at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, showing a figurative group entitled The Destiny of the Red Man. In 1906, he became an Associate of the National Academy of Design and an Academician by 1911.

Although Weinman regarded his work in medal and coins with less pride, he was a member of the American Numismatic Society and the designer of the 1916 Mercury dime and Walking Liberty half dollar, as well as numerous military and commemorative medals.

Weinman's sculptural work can be seen on major public buildings and sites throughout the United States. Working for the famed architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, he produced ornamentation and friezes for several other significant New York structures, as well as the sculpture for Pennsylvania Station (demolished in 1966) and the figure of Civic Fame, which stands over nineteen feet on top of the city's Municipal Building.

One of the largest collections of Weinman's architectural sculpture can still be seen in Washington, D.C., where he created pediments for the National Archives, United States Postal Services, and Department of Agriculture buildings. For the United States Supreme Court chamber, Weinman rendered friezes portraying Lawgivers of History; Majesty of Law and Power of Government; and Powers of Good and Powers of Evil. He also carved The Drafting of the Declaration of Independence (1943) for the Jefferson Memorial. Weinman's works can also be found in important national collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

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Adolph Weinman is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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