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 Adelaide (Sarah Adeline) Johnson  (1859 - 1955)

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Lived/Active: New York/District Of Columbia      Known for: female portrait bust sculpture, feminist themes

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Suffrage Monument in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building, Washington DC.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A sculptor in stone of subjects of the feminist movement, she did portrait busts of numerous figures including Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. The high point of her career was completing a monument in Washington DC in honor of the women's movement. She exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Her lifestyle was that of a feminist, highly independent for that time period, but her vanity as well as a sense of whimsy caused her to consistently lie about her age. When she was young, she made herself younger, and when she was old, she added twelve years to her actual age. She lived to age ninety-six, although newspapers reported she was one-hundred eight.

She was born to a farm family in Plymouth, Illinois, and attended rural school and then took classes at the St. Louis School of Design where she earned several awards at age eighteen.

In 1878, she changed from Sarah Adeline to Adelaide, a name she thought was more dramatic. She moved to Chicago and supported herself by doing wood carvings. From a fall down an elevator shaft, she got fifteen thousand dollars in insurance money and used the money to study in Europe, first in Dresden in 1883 and then in Rome where she kept a studio until 1920.

She married British businessman, Frederick Jenkins, eleven years younger than she, and he took her name. They were wed by a woman minister, and her bridesmaids were the busts she did of Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton. However, the marriage only lasted twelve years.

Toward the end of her career, she was not able to get the prices she thought she deserved, so to get attention, she disfigured some of the pieces in her studio and alerted the press, which brought her some additional sales. Her papers are in the Adelaide Johnson Collection in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Source:
Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Artists

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