This is the central figure, “America,” in Thomas Crawford’s group of marble sculptures titled “The Progress of Civilization” on the US Capitol. Finished between 1853 and 1856, the sculptures were newly photographed during a 2016 restoration. Did Louisa Lander, Crawford’s pupil, carve this figure based on her (now lost) “To-Day”?
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