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 Edward Augustus Brackett  (1818 - 1908)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/New York/Maine      Known for: portrait bust sculpture

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Edwin C. (or E.) Brackett is primarily known as Edward Augustus Brackett

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Edward Augustus Brackett, a mid-19th-century neo-classical* sculptor, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, a city notable for its artistic activity, especially in sculpture.  By 1839, Brackett moved to New York City, but two years later settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he created most of his work that has been described as both "imaginative and disturbing" (Falk).

He exhibited at the National Academy of Design* in New York and the Athenaeum Gallery in Boston.  He was the older brother of the portrait painter, Walter M. Brackett.

He specialized primarily in portraiture and his best-known bust is of the leading Boston artist of the period, Washington Allston (MMA), done after Allston's death, in 1844.  The work was commissioned because an earlier bust of Allston, sculpted by Shobal Vail Clevenger a few years before the painter's death, revealed the effects of age and illness so harshly that a more sympathetic, idealized bust was wanted, and in creating it, Brackett was successful.  Other subjects included writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and politician Charles Sumner.

Brackett's most ambitious and controversial work was Shipwrecked Mother and Child (1850-51, Worcester Museum.), an exceedingly melodramatic sculpture-yet effective because of its provacative nudity and sentimental morbidity.  It was much praised in its own time by such artist-critics as Horatio Greenough, but criticized by others a being horrifically authentic with "waterbloated, lifeless figures" (Falk).

Brackett gave up sculpture in the 1860s and took up writing poetry.  He also served as head of the Massachusetts fish and Game Commission, a job that much distracted him from sculpture later in his life.

Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Art
Groce & Wallace, Dictionary of Artists in America"
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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