Monthly Archives: February 2009

Evelyn Longman Batchelder

Genius of Electricity

Genius of Electricity

Evelyn Longman was born in a log cabin on a farm near Winchester, Ohio, and had to pay for her own art education. She worked during the day at a store in Chicago and took night classes at the Chicago Art Institute.

She worked with many noted sculptors and her work caught the attention of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. She became French’s only female assistant while continuing to do her own pieces. “Victory,” an allegorical figure, was her biggest success, and it was installed in Festival Hall in St. Louis for the 1904 Exposition where it won a silver metal. A replica is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Longman continued to get many important commissions including bronze doors at Wellesley College and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. She was the only sculptor for whom Thomas Edison agreed to sit. Probably her best-known work today is  the iconic, gilded “Genius of Electricity” (pictured on an old Bell Tel directory) which stood atop the AT&T building in Manhattan. Two other works, the Louisa Wells Memorial and the Storey Memorial, are in the Lowell, Mass. Cemetery (77 Knapp Ave in Lowell).

In 1920, Evelyn Longman married Nathaniel Horton Batchelder, and they moved to Windsor, Connecticut, where he was headmaster of Loomis School. She continued to sculpt after her marriage and died in 1954 at age eighty on Cape Cod. She was the first woman sculptor elected a full member of the National Academy of Design.

What’s this all about?

Since I love the dictionary, I looked to first for my blog title. The last definition of “sculpture” is, oddly, “to work as a sculptor,” which has been my aim for the last 20 years. Although my day job is graphic design, in my secret heart I am always waiting for more studio time. Here I’ll share materials and methods, sources and inspiration (mainly “forgotten” women sculptors), and hopefully answer some of the questions I get asked the most about my practice as a figurative sculptor.