Abastenia St. Leger Eberle

EberleWindyDoorst3pAbastenia St. Leger Eberle (1878–1942) was a native of Webster City, Iowa. She initially studied to become a professional musician, but eventually enrolled in the Art Students League in New York.

She achieved early success with her sculpture “Men and Bull,” created in collaboration with Anna Hyatt and shown at the 1904 exhibition of the Society of American Artists. In 1906 she was elected to the National Sculpture Society.

St. Leger Eberle worked in a style related to Art Nouveau and the New Sculpture movement. She produced mainly portrait sculpture and decorative work, some of which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Her most famous piece, “The White Slave,” was exhibited at the 1913 Armory Show in New York, and caused “a storm of violent controversy.” The sculpture represented a nude young girl being literally led into prostitution, which at the time was euphemistically called white slavery.

Following this success she created a number of sculptures of working class children from the Lower East Side, depicting them at play and work. These represented “the vitality of the city’s immigrant population”. By 1930 she was forced to leave New York because of financial and health problems and settled in Westport, Connecticut.

Eberle believed that art should have a social function, writing that artists “had no right to work as an individualist with no responsibility to others. [Artists] must see for people – reveal them to themselves and each other.”

Pictured: “A Windy Doorstep”

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3 responses to “Abastenia St. Leger Eberle

  1. To me, this is one of the most formally striking works you have pictured here. All the more ironic that I had not previously heard of this sculptor.

    • Thanks for your comment! Glad to know I have a reader….and thanks also for the Obsidian Wings link from Proportion Wheel (see, I read that from time to time, also)!!

  2. i don’t know aobut your readership. i have a blog that ii’ve gone a year or more without adding deep insights. but this morning on antiques roadshow a work by ms. eberle and started me on a little search to find out more about her, particularly because of her armory show notoriety which i take as a reason to like her. i’m gonna try to do a little blog thing about her and will pass the word on. happy to read what you’ve written

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