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 Vinnie Hoxie Ream  (1847 - 1914)

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia/Kansas/Wisconsin      Known for: political and classical figure sculpture

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Vinnie Ream Hoxie is primarily known as Vinnie Hoxie Ream

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Vinnie (Mrs. Richard L. Hoxie) Ream
An example of work by Vinnie Ream Hoxie
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Vinnie Ream, of Madison, Wisconsin, was a beautiful and charming prodigy who, in her teens, won a $10,000 commission for a statue of Abraham Lincoln, to be placed in the Capitol rotunda in Washington. Mary Todd Lincoln objected, and others accused her of using "women's wiles" to get the commission. Many art critics and leading citizens declared that she was too inexperienced for the job. Henry Tuckerman, a 19th century art historian, criticized Congress for selecting a novice, and Charles Sumner angrily declared in the Senate, "You might as well put General Grant aside and place her on horseback in his stead". But, Hoxie gathered testimonials to her competency and won her fight.

The truth was she had produced a more authentic image of Lincoln than the nineteen other sculptors competing with her. The reason was simple. She had modeled a bust of the great man from life in 1864-1865, shortly before he was assassinated. Hearing that Hoxie was a poor girl starting out in her career, Lincoln had granted her half-hour, daily sittings for five months. Now she could still recall his melancholy expression and his generous nature as she worked on her memorial statue in 1866.

Vinnie Ream arrived at this impressive position at the young age of eighteen by sheer talent (and a talent for being in the right place at the right time). Her father held a modest civil service post in Washington, and she took a job as a post office clerk to help family finances. When she visited Clark Mills' sculpture studio in a wing of the Capitol, she was very much moved by the encounter. Immediately, she rushed home, modeled a medallion of an Indian head in clay, and presented it to Mills for his criticism. Impressed, he took her as a student. Because of her natural talent, and because she had the good fortune to be working right in the nation's capital, she was soon commissioned to model busts of important men Senator John Sherman, General Custer, Horace Greeley, and others. These patrons helped her arrange the sitting with Lincoln.

When Ream went to Rome, in 1869, to put her Lincoln into marble, she became the darling of the international art colony there. George Healy and George Caleb Bingham painted her portrait; William Wetmore Story, who had earlier ridiculed Harriet Hosmer behind her back, admired Hoxie. The combination of feminine charm, serious dedication to work, and a very open and generous nature made her irresistible.

After twenty months in Europe, she returned for the unveiling of Lincoln in 1871. Wisconsin's Senator Carpenter, and other members of the audience, found that the sculpture, with its flowing lines and grave head bowed slightly forward, conveyed the artist's reverence and captured the quality of Lincoln's personality.

Over the years, the sculpture has been both criticized and admired. Lorado Taft objected to the absence of "body within the garments," but many critics have found the work honest and realistic, and compared it favorably with other, more pretentious statues of Lincoln that were being erected all over the nation at the time.

Ream executed a considerable body of work during her early years, in addition to her many portrait busts. Among her neoclassical pieces were Spartacus, Indian Girl, Dying Standard Bearer, and Violet, all now lost. Sappho, a statue of the Greek poetess, is considered her finest neoclassical work.

In 1875, Ream received a $20,000 federal commission for a statue of Admiral Farragut, to be cast in bronze taken from the propeller of Farragut's flagship. The ten-foot statue, her major work, was unveiled in Farragut Square in Washington in 1881. At the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, she displayed The Spirit of the Carnival, which was an elaborate tour de force of garland carving, and Miriam, and The West.

Her later life contrasts sharply with the lives of the rest of many women sculptors who never married. At age thirty, in 1878, Vinnie Ream married Lieutenant Richard Leveridge Hoxie, later to become brigadier general. Her home in Farragut Square became a center of Washington social life. She had a son, and deferring to her husband's wishes, gave up sculpture to become a social leader and charity worker. She played the harp at informal gatherings in her home.

Many years later, already ill, she returned to her profession, executing a statue of Governor Samuel Kirkwood, of Iowa, for Statuary Hall in the Capitol building. Her husband rigged up a boatswain's chair on a rope hoist to make her work easier. She had just completed a model of the Cherokee Sequoyah for the state of Oklahoma when she died at sixty-seven of a kidney ailment. Sequoyah was finished in bronze by the sculptor George Zolnay, and today is in the U.S. Capitol. Over her grave in Arlington, Virginia is a bronze replica of her Sappho.

Source: "American Women Artists" by Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Glenn Sherwood, a relative and biographer of the artist:

To my knowledge, Vinnie Ream never used the name Hoxie on any of her work; that is why the name was not included in the title of my book.  She did most of her sculpture prior to her marriage in 1878, and her husband would not allow her to do art for hire, only as charity, etc. (until late in life when the statues of Kirkwood and Sequoyah were done).

Nonetheless, it was said that Vinnie Ream accomplished more in 4 years than a notable male rival did in 40.

Vinnie Ream became very ill, in about 1900 at the turn of the century and it was said that her husband begged her to try and pull through and that he would allow her to do the art again. He even built her a studio and made a special boatswain's chair for her to use. It could be pulled up and down to various heights as she worked.

The name Hoxie has made indexing very confusing and the solution is to list her under both names probably.  Vinnie Ream was the name she used to sign her work.  We tried to respect that, and it was the name by which she was known when she was at the peak of her fame.

Her career dwindled after marriage and the birth of her son in 1883 who was handicapped.  They also moved a lot due to Richard's army career.  In all fairness to Richard L. Hoxie, he did help her complete the Farragut, which was unveiled in 1881 after their marriage, but it was exhausting for both of them!  Vinnie Ream tried to obtain commissions for big equestrian monuments that would have been larger.  She could not obtain those commissions and she was ostracized to some degree. Marriage gave her more respectability.

It was the prim & proper 19th century!

Harriet Hosmer never married and thought a woman artist could not do both, that an art career would suffer in a marriage. Vinnie Ream was more forward-looking and stated that women could do both and that they could have careers and a family life. She realized that to some extent.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Vinnie Ream was born on the 23rd of September, 1847.  Her mother was Lavinia McDonald of Scotch descent.  Her first commission was at 15 modeling a Native American Chief medallion in less than two hours.  This accomplishment earned her the attention of Honorable John Wentworth, Thaddeus Stevens and other congressional members, and she was encouraged to study art. 

In six months she produced the following likenesses Frank P. Blair, Parson Brownlow, General Grant, Reverdy Johnson, General Pike, Senator Sherman, and Senator Voorhees.  Then she was introduced to President Lincoln, who sat for her six months prior to his death.  Vinnie made a medallion of composer Franz Liszt, and he gave her many souvenirs to take home to American.  Cardinal Antonelli sat for her in Rome.  She created his likeness. She received as payment three stone cameos, one was a large head of Christ.

Information submitted as a bulletin by Janet G. Smith, art instructor, Creighton University, Omaha, NE.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Madison, WI, Sept. 23, 1847; d. Washington, DC, Nov. 20, 1914. Sculptor. In 1854 when she was 7, her father became chief clerk to surveyor general John Calhoun, and they moved to Leavenworth. In 1861 her family moved to Washington. Studied at Christian College in Columbia, MO. Pupil of Clark Mills in Washington, DC, Léon Bonnat in Paris, Majoli in Rome.

In 1866 President Lincoln sat for her in the White House over a period of five months. When she was 19, congress awarded her the commission to make a full-length marble statue of Lincoln for the rotunda.

In 1875 she received a contract for a heroic statue of Admiral Farragut for Farragut Square, Washington. She married Lt. Richard Leveridege Hoxie in 1878, giving up sculpture to become a popular Washington hostess.
Source:
SOURCES:
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Obit American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-194712; Sain, Lydia. Kansas Artists, compiled by Lydia Sain from 1932 to 1948. Typed Manuscript, 1948.; Fielding, Mantle. Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, with an Addendum containing Corrections and Additional Material on the Original Entries. Compiled by James F. Carr. New York: James F. Carr Publ., 1965.; American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-19471903; Reinbach, Edna, comp. “Kansas Art and Artists”, in Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society. v. 17, 1928. p. 571-585.; American Art Annual. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1898-194712; Samuels, Peggy. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976.; Kanhistique. Ellsworth, KS, v.1 #1 May 1975-. 1975-1982 examined.. Ellsworth, KS, v.1 #1 May 1975-. 1975-1982 examined. (Feb. 1980); Taft, Lorado. History of American Sculpture. New edition with supplemental chapter by Adeline Adams. New York: Macmillan Co, 1930.; Chase; Cooper, Edward S. Vinnie Ream: an American Scuptor (Chicago: Academy Chicago Publ., 2004); McDonald, John J., “Vinnie Reams Hoxie at Iowa and Elsewhere”, http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/speccoll/Bai/mcdonald.htm, accessed Dec. 21, 2005; AskArt, www.askart.com, accessed Dec. 20, 2005; Kovinick, Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998...
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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