Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Harriet Hosmer "Beatrice Cenci"

Beatrice Cenci
This photograph taken by Jodi Kovach (MA 2003) is "Beatrice Cenci" a marble statue (17 1/8 x 41 1/8 x 17 in) created by Harriet Hosmer in 1857. This statue can be viewed in the St. Louis Mercantile Library in St. Louis, Missouri.
This statue was commissioned to Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908) depicts a young woman the night before her execution in a state of tranquil contemplation in spite of the hideous past she was forced to endure. The gruesome background to this praying young women in the late 16th century was when a Roman noblewoman and her mother, Lucretia, killed her abusive and tyrannical father Francesco. Both women were condemned to death and beheaded, despite numerous pleas to clemency.
This statue of "Beatrice Cenci" is the first departure from the classical subject matter for Harriet Hosmer. The simple elegance and grace in this sculpture depicts undeniable beauty. The hideous past of this young woman does not show through from the relaxed pose of the body and the head laying softy of the pillow. The hand clutching the rosary seems to add a higher purpose to this statue to the viewer as well.
Harriet Hosmer is an American sculptor who studied anatomy in St. Louis and then traveled to Rome. In Rome, Hosmer became a pupil of the famous sculptor, John Gibson. Some of Hosmer's other famous works include, "Zenobia in Chains" and "Queen of Palmyra."

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