National Museum of Women in the Arts
Vinnie Ream Hoxie
September 25 1847 - November 20 1914
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Photograph of Vinnie Ream Hoxie, ca. 1865 - 1870, unknown photographer. The Brady-Handy Photograph Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA
Place of Birth:
Madison
Nationality:
American
Phonetic Spelling:
VIH-nee reem HAHK-see
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Sculpture
Artistic Role(s):
Bronze Worker, Marble Worker, Portraitist, Sculptor
Style:
Neoclassicism
Artist's Biography:
Vinnie Ream Hoxie was a notable artistic prodigy. Still in her teens, she modeled a bust of Abraham Lincoln from life. After his assassination, Congress contracted for a well-paid life-size marble portrait of him, albeit not without heated controversy due to Hoxie’s age and inexperience. The statue was permanently installed in the Capitol Rotunda in 1871, making Hoxie the first woman to receive a sculptural commission from Congress.

Born in a log cabin in Madison, Wisconsin, Hoxie and her family moved first to Missouri, then to Washington, DC in 1861. She worked as a clerk for the United States Postal Service and helped the war effort by singing in hospital concerts. As an apprentice for sculptor Clark Mills, she made relief medallions and portrait busts of congressmen and other public figures. She opened a studio in Rome for two years, transferring her Lincoln model into marble and receiving an international array of guests and tourists.

The artist traveled, but spent the best days of her career as a Washington socialite, arguably using her charisma and vivacity to capture the attention of presidents, senators, and generals. Most of her sculptures, a combination of Neoclassical idealism and lifelike naturalism, were bust-length portraits of celebrated figures both in the US and abroad including Thaddeus Stevens, General Custer, and Franz Liszt. In 1881, she completed the first major monument to a US Navy Officer, Admiral David Farragut, which currently stands in Farragut Square, Washington, DC. Several allegorical busts, including The West, Spring, and Spirit of the Carnival also illuminate her sculpting career.

In 1878, Vinnie Ream married Richard L. Hoxie, a lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers. Due to conflict over their careers, the artist effectively abandoned sculpture for over two decades, turning her efforts to supporting Washington charities and playing the role of Victorian housewife. Her last work, commissioned in 1912 but never completed, was designing a full-size statue of Cherokee Chief Sequoyah, the first statue of a Native American to be placed in the Statuary Hall at the Capitol Building.

Although she was not a prolific artist, Hoxie undoubtedly opened doors for future women sculptors. She died in 1914 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Other Occupation(s):
Musician, Socialite, Traveler, Writer, Clerk
Place(s) of Residence:
Paris
Washington
Place(s) of Activity:
Rome
Where Trained/Schools:
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY, USA (1871) Private lessons (ca. 1860-1869) Christian College Academy, Columbia, MO, USA (1857-1858) J.T. Robinson's Select School for Girls, St. Joseph, MO, USA (1856)
Related Visual Artists:
apprentice of Clark Mills student of Léon Bonnat student of Luigi Majoli friend of Henry Kirk Brown friend of G.P.A Healy friend of William Story friend of Gustave Doré colleague of Harriet Goodhue Hosmer
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Congressional Commission of the official portrait of Admiral David G. Farragut, United States Congress, Washington, DC, USA (1874) Congressional Commission of the official portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, United States Congress, Washington, DC, USA (1866)
Earliest exhibition:
Grand Exhibition of National Industries, American Institute, New York, NY, USA (1871)
NMWA exhibition(s):
American Women Artists: 1830-1930
Artist retrospective(s):
Vinnie Ream: Engraved Upon My Heart, Arts Club of Washington, Washington, DC, USA (1990)
Related places
Washington (died at)
Vinnie Ream Hoxie at work upon the Lincoln bust, 1866-ca. 1870
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