Bashka Paeff

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Bashka Paeff
Bashka Paeff, American sculptor, 1893-1979.jpg
Belarusian: Башка Паэф

(1889-08-12)August 12, 1889[1][2]
DiedJanuary 24, 1979(1979-01-24) (aged 89)
Spouse(s)Samuel Montefiore Waxman
Lexington Militia Man relief by Bashka Paeff

Bashka Paeff (Belarusian: Башка Паэф) (August 12, 1889 — January 24, 1979), was an American sculptor active near Boston, Massachusetts.

Bashka Paeff was known as the Subway sculptor for the pieces she modeled at the Park Street T station while working her way through art school at the Boston Museum School. She was especially known for realistic animal sculptures, war memorials, fountains and portraits which she created in the classical tradition.


Paeff was born into a Jewish family in Minsk, Russian Empire in 1889.[1][2][3] When she was a year old, her family immigrated to the United States.[3] At the age of 13 or 14 she enrolled in Massachusetts College of Art and Design (then called Massachusetts Normal Art School) in Boston. In addition to completing programs in drawing, painting, and art education, she studied sculpture with Cyrus Edwin Dallin and graduated in 1911. In 1914 she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she studied with Bela Pratt, and was sometimes called the "Subway sculptor" because she worked at Boston's Park Street T station. Later she worked at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, and subsequently married Samuel Montefiore Waxman,[4] Professor of Romance Languages at Boston University.

Today Paeff is perhaps best known for the Maine Sailors and Soldiers Memorial on Route 1 crossing from Portsmouth, New Hampshire into Kittery, Maine. Its creation was marred by some political controversy. She received her commission in 1924 from Governor Percival P. Baxter, but in 1925 his successor, Governor Ralph Brewster, rejected the piece as overly pacifist. Minor changes accommodated both men, and the revised sculpture was installed in 1926 in what is now called John Paul Jones Memorial Park.

Other notable pieces by Paeff include a fountain sculpture of a small boy with bird at the Boston Public Garden (Arlington Street entrance),[4] a statue of Warren G. Harding's pet Airedale "Laddie Boy" cast from 19,000 US penny coins at the Smithsonian Institution,[5] a bas relief of Ellen Swallow Richards at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a relief depicting the Battle of Lexington near Buckman Tavern in Lexington, Massachusetts. Boy and Bird is featured on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wingate, Jennifer. Motherhood, Memorials, and Anti-Militarism: Bashka Paeff's "Sacrifices of War". Woman's Art Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall - Winter, 2008), pp. 31–40


  1. ^ a b U.S. Social Security Administration (May 20, 2014). "Bashka Waxman in United States Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. National Technical Information Service. Retrieved October 2, 2019. Birth Date: 12 Aug 1889.
  2. ^ a b National Archives and Records Administration (2007). "Bashka Paeff in the U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925". Operations, Inc. Retrieved October 2, 2019. ...Twelfth day of August, 1889.
  3. ^ a b Hirshler, Erica E. (2001). A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940. MFA Publications. p. 187.
  4. ^ a b "Bashka Paeff, Sculptor Of 'Boy and Bird,' 85". The New York Times. January 26, 1979. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  5. ^ "Laddie Boy". Presidential Pet Museum. June 27, 2022. Retrieved June 27, 2022. {{cite web}}: Check |archive-url= value (help)
  6. ^ "Back Bay East". Boston Women's Heritage Trail.

External links[edit]