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 Edward Sheffield Bartholomew  (1822 - 1858)



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Lived/Active: Connecticut/New York / Italy      Known for: neo-classical portrait bust and figural sculpture

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Ad Code: 3
Edward Sheffield Bartholomew
from Auction House Records.
Classical Allegory
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A sculptor in neo-classical* style and subject matter, Edward Bartholomew was a carver in marble of bas reliefs*, portrait busts and medallions*.  One of his most famous as well as typical works is Eve Repentant, a monumental, seated woman overburdened by grief.  It is a narrative piece intended to convey through allegory and anecdotal details such as a serpent head and bitten apple a sense of tragedy of her fall from grace.

Bartholomew was born in Colchester, Connecticut, and he moved with his family to Hartford when he was age fifteen.  As a youth, he served briefly as an apprentice to a book binder, and then for four years was a dental assistant.  However, he had desires to become a painter and sculptor, and during the 1844-1845 session enrolled in the antique class of the National Academy of Design*.  In 1846, he returned to Hartford and took a job of 'keeper' at the newly established Wadsworth Atheneum.  In this position, he found extra time to do drawings of Etruscan statuary and of Rafael cartoons.  However, upon the discovery he was colorblind, he switched from painting to sculpture.

In 1847, he moved back to New York to again attend classes at the National Academy.  He lived in the University Building where Frederic Edwin Church, his good friend and fellow artist also lived.  He made plans to go to Rome, but had to postpone the trip until 1851 because of getting a case of smallpox.

In Italy, he began the most productive period of his career, which included the creation of bas reliefs based on on Biblical and classical subjects, which are "among the finest examples in American neo classical sculpture." (Tolles).  After one year in Rome, he spent four months in Greece and the Near East.

Returning to Rome, he was sought after by American visitors, many whom sat for portraits including Millard Fillmore, who served as U.S. President from 1850 to 1853.  His portraits were particularly appealing because he often placed his subjects in idealized settings with corresponding titles such as Shepherd Boy for Enoch Pratt of Baltimore.

Bartholowmew made two return trips to the United States, one in 1855 and the second in 1857 to Baltimore and Hartford.  From the latter trip he returned to Rome with many commissions to fill, but, suffering from an ulcerated throat, he had failing health.  Seeking a better clime, he went to Naples but died shortly after at age 36 in 1858.  He is buried in Naples. 

His colossal statue of George Washington was installed in Baltimore, first on a main street and then in Druid Hill Park.  His studio effects were given to the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Thayer Tolles, "Edward Sheffield Bartholomew", American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 96
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art

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