Lost Louisas


Louisa Lander was born in Salem, Mass. in 1826 and died in Boston in 1923. She outlived her career as a neoclassical sculptor by many decades, and the list of her “lost” works is a long one. The bulk of her active career was spent in Rome, and a few works described in her Roman studio (“Elizabeth, Exile of Siberia,”  “Pioneer Mother and Child”) may not have made it to the carver’s workshop, or out of Italy.

But several pieces exhibited in and around Boston—presumably in some final form, whether marble or bronze—remain intriguingly missing. An “Evangeline,” lying near the bank of a stream, exhausted and asleep, a patriotic bust titled “Today,” a “Galatea” and others remain at large. Whether these were later attributed to other artists, destroyed, or are sleeping in an attic or basement, it’s worth keeping an eye out for this elusive artist’s lost oeuvre.

Pictured is Lander’s stunning portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne, in the first floor reference room of the Concord Free Public Library. Signed “L.L. Romae. 1858.” and carved in marble from Lander’s clay original in Italy, the “L.L.” signature may also appear—inconspicuously—on other work.

An engraved portrait of Lander herself appears in an 1861 issue of Cosmopolitan Art Journal_Vol.5 No,1



4 responses to “Lost Louisas

  1. I was fortunate to find one of Louisa’s lost works, much by accident.
    I suspected it was hers, but your photo of the signature of the NH bust
    confirms it.
    I believe it to be “Elizabeth, Exile of Siberia,” based upon the description
    “Woman Artists in All Ages and Countries”
    Mrs. Elizabeth Fries Lummis Ellet, New York
    Harper & Brothers Publishers 1859. pg 332

  2. Yes, I live in Florida. I would post a photo of the signature, but am not sure of how to do so.

    • I usually post a photo from my phone to either Twitter or Instagram (where I have accounts for work as well as personal artwork). If you have a blog, there are various means to place a photo in your blog post. How to do that depends on your application—I use WordPress so I might be able to assist you there. You could also email your photo or photos to a local historical society or library and ask them to post. I can also post them on this blog, with proper credit and citations if you like. You may also email me at work at the college: cwirth@pmc.edu if that’s less cumbersome. I am always interested in hearing more about Lander’s work.

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