Anne Whitney, 1821-1915

  • Anne-Whitney-WWP

Woman Category: Arts and Literature & PoetryWoman Tags: 19th Amendment Centennial Anniversary, Abolitionist, Greater Boston Women, LGBTQ, Poet, Sculptress, and Suffragist

  • HerStory

    A 19th century independent “New Woman”, poet and a sculptress, known for statues that reflect her political and social views as an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate.

    Born in Watertown, Massachusetts to a family of Unitarians and abolitionists. Her interest in the arts began in childhood, first as a poet and later on as a sculptress. At the age of 34, Whitney made her first portrait busts, and at 38, she published a collection of her poems but decided to focus mainly on sculpturing.
    To get a better understanding of the human body, Whitney moved to New York to study anatomy at Brooklyn Hospital, and then to Philadelphia to study drawing and modeling. When she was 46 years old, Whitney and her life partner, Abby Adeline Manning, moved to Rome to learn new sculpturing practices and creating art using nude male models (which was considered inappropriate in the US).
    At the age of 52, two years after she returned to the USA, Whitney started to work on her most famous work – a sculpture of Samuel Adams, located in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, DC. As part of the ‘New Women’ Movement, Whitney believed that the best way to express her social and political viewpoint is via art. She created many statues, among them were of leading figures of the Suffrage Movement, such as Frances Willard and Lucy Stone, political figures such as the Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture, and the philanthropist Alice Tileston Hemenway.
    Whitney lived an unconventional and independent life, opened her own studios and traveled through Europe and the US. She was an abolitionist and fought for women’s rights. These days her art pieces are presented around the US, in museums and other public spaces.

    “You are welcome, world, to criticize, carp and croak yourself hoarse if you will”

    “You are welcome, world, to criticize, carp and croak yourself hoarse if you will”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • In the sculpture ‘Africa’ she depicts the freedom of an entire race.
    • In ‘Lady Godiva’ she represents the burden of taxes been lifted.
    • She won a blind contest for her sculpture of Charles Sumner. When the judges realized that the winner is a woman, they gave a man to prepare it. Their justification was that a woman couldn’t sculpt a man’s legs accurately.
    • She and her partner for 40 years, Abby Adeline Manning, were connected through “Boston Marriage” – a long term relationship between two educated women.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Photos of her
    * Her poetry books

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • A drawing of Anne Whitney estimated from 1860. Photo credit - Wikipedia.