glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

American Art: Lesbian, Nineteenth Century  
page: 1  2  3  


As the times changed lesbian artists became more prominent and their successes more frequent, although some achieved recognition only posthumously in the twentieth century.

In 1864 Hosmer wrote letters to the press successfully defending her work as her own, thereby gaining her rightful recognition and establishing the "masculine" medium as one that women could master. Hosmer, who was called "the most famous female sculptor of the century," was consequently influential to generations of women artists.

Lewis's monumental masterpiece, The Death of Cleopatra (National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution), was exhibited at the Centennial Expositions in 1876 in Philadelphia and in Chicago in 1878, where it generated a tremendous amount of excitement and interest.

Whitney later taught at Wellesley College in Massachusetts; her sculpture of Clark Sumner was eventually executed and erected in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1902. Her Mount Vernon studio is now a featured stop on a walking tour of Beacon Hill in Boston.

In 1940 Bonheur's partner, the American painter Anna Elizabeth Klumpke (1856-1942), published a combination of her own memoirs and a biography of her lover. She is best known for her portraits of famous women such as Bonheur and women's rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1889, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution).

Mary Ann Willson, who apparently stopped painting upon Brundage's death, was rediscovered in 1943 and her Prodigal Son watercolor series is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Art. In 1969 Willson's and Brundage's life together became the inspiration for Isabel Miller's popular novel Patience and Sarah (1972, originally self-published as A Place for Us in 1969).

Carla Williams

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts

   Related Entries
arts >> Overview:  American Art: Gay Male, Nineteenth Century

In nineteenth-century America men who loved other men often suffered from guilt, but artists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins celebrated male camaraderie and affection, while expatriate John Singer Sargent depicted the dandy, and photographs documented male friendships.

arts >> Bonheur, Rosa

The most popular artist of nineteenth-century France and a renowned painter of animals, Rosa Bonheur lived in two consecutive committed relationships with women.

arts >> Cushman, Charlotte

One of the most famous actresses of the nineteenth century, Charlotte Cushman was a commanding presence both on and off stage; she used her fortune and fame to champion the work of other women artists, among them her lover Emma Stebbins.

arts >> Hosmer, Harriet Goodhue

American sculptor Harriet Hosmer, among a handful of successful women artists in the nineteenth century, frequently scandalized the polite society of her day by her mannish dress and adventurous behavior.

literature >> James, Henry

Though closeted, Henry James had a number of intimate relations with young men, and his sexual orientation imbued his fiction.

arts >> Klumpke, Anna Elizabeth

American-born artist Anna Elizabeth Klumpke is best known today as the last lover of acclaimed French painter Rosa Bonheur, but she was an accomplished artist in her own right.

arts >> Lewis, Mary Edmonia

American sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis lived most of her life in Rome, where she was a member of a lesbian circle of American expatriates and artists.

literature >> Miller, Isabel

The fiction of Isabel Miller explores and celebrates relationships between women, often across class lines.

arts >> Stebbins, Emma

Emma Stebbins is remembered for the sculpture that she produced between 1859 and 1869 and for being the lover of actress Charlotte Cushman.

arts >> Whitney, Anne

Boston sculptor Anne Whitney, who as a woman in a male-dominated field struggled for equality, chose subjects--abolitionists, feminists, and blacks--that reflected her liberal political and social beliefs.


Borzello, Frances. A World of Our Own: Women Artists Since the Renaissance. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2000.

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. Rev. ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

Dwyer, Britta C. Anna Klumpke: A Turn-of-the-Century Painter and Her World. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999.

Klumpke, Anna Elizabeth. Memoirs of an Artist. Boston: Wright and Potter, 1940.

_____. Rosa Bonheur: The Artist's (Auto)Biography. Gretchen Van Slyck, trans. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Miller, Isabel. Patience and Sarah. New York: McGraw Hill, 1972.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York: Viking, 1999.

Sherwood, Dolly. Harriet Hosmer, American Sculptor 1830-1908. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991.

Stebbins, Emma, ed. Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories Of Her Life, Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1879.

Wolfe, Rinna Evelyn. Edmonia Lewis: Wildfire in Marble, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Silver Burdett Press, 1998.

Links to photographic portraits of many of the artists can be found at:

Anne Whitney information:

Mary Ann Willson biography:


    Citation Information
    Author: Williams, Carla  
    Entry Title: American Art: Lesbian, Nineteenth Century  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated August 29, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.