Helen Farnsworth Mears
Helen Farnsworth Mears
Helen Farnsworth Mears
|Died||February 17, 1916 (aged 43)|
|Education||State Normal School in Oshkosh|
|Known for||American sculptor|
|marble statue of Frances E. Willard|
|Patron(s)||Augustus Saint Gaudens|
Mears was born December 21, 1872, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, daughter of John Hall Mears and  Elizabeth Farnsworth Mears (pen names "Nellie Wildwood" and "Ianthe", called the first Wisconsin poetess ) and youngest sister to Louise and Mary Mears. Mears studied at the State Normal School in Oshkosh, and art in New York City. In New York, she studied under Augustus Saint Gaudens for two years and worked as his assistant before heading to Paris in 1895 to continue working with Denys Puech (sometimes Puesch), Alexandre Charpentier, and Frederick MacMonnies.
Her first success, before any formal art training, was "Genius of Wisconsin", a work commissioned by the State of Wisconsin when she was just 21. The work was exhibited in the Wisconsin Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The 9-foot (2.7 m) marble sculpture was executed by the Piccirilli Brothers. It is now housed in the Wisconsin State Capitol. Both she and sculptor Jean Pond Miner were named "artists in residence" at the Wisconsin Building, and that is where she created The Genius of Wisconsin, while Miner produced Forward.
Her most important works include a marble statue of Frances E. Willard (1905, Capitol, Washington) that is included in the National Statuary Hall Collection; portrait reliefs of Edward MacDowell (Metropolitan Museum, New York); and Augustus St. Gaudens; portrait busts of George Rogers Clark and William T.G. Morton, M. D. (Smithsonian Institution, Washington). In 1904, her "Fountain of Life" (St. Louis Exposition) won a bronze medal. She made New York her residence and exhibited there and in Chicago.
Statue of Wisconsin
In 1910, George B. Post, the architect of the Wisconsin State Capitol then being designed, attempted to secure the services of the well-known sculptor Daniel Chester French to create a statue of Wisconsin to be placed on top of the dome. French, having as much work as he desired, turned the commission down, and so Post recommended Mears for the job. With the belief that she had the contract, she began working on a model; she ultimately created three models with two of them receiving feedback from the commission. By August 1911, Post suggested that Mears could not complete the design in their time frame, and French was ultimately selected by the commission to complete the sculpture. Mears was paid US$1,500 for the work that she had already done, but the loss of the commission was a shock from which she never recovered.
Following the debacle surrounding the Wisconsin capitol statue, Mears's health declined as did her financial well-being. She died at the age of 43 on February 17, 1916 of heart disease. At the time of her death, she was working in her studio at 46 Washington Square South, in Greenwich Village.
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- Archival Artifacts: Albee Bust Archived 2009-01-09 at the Wayback Machine
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- Opitz, ed., Glenn B. (1984). Dictionary of American Sculptors: 18th century to the present. New York: Apollo. p. 268. ISBN 0938290037.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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- Mears, Helen Farnsworth 1872 - 1916
- Bomberger, E. Douglas. MacDowell. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
- Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of State Facilities; East Wing Architects, LLC (November 2004). Historic Structure Report: Wisconsin State Capitol, Book I: Comprehensive Volume (PDF). State of Wisconsin Collection. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Rajer & Style
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- "Helen F. Mears Dies. A Noted Sculptor". The New York Times. February 18, 1916. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
- "Helen Farnsworth Mears". Hartford Courant. February 21, 1916. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
Helen Farnsworth Mears Helen Farnsworth Mears, a famous sculptor, died Thursday in her home in New York. She was a pupil of St. Gaudens and afterwards of ...
- Levy, Hannah Heidi (2004). Famous Wisconsin: Artists and Architects. Oregon, WI: Badger Books.
- Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Sculptors. G. K. Hall & Co., Boston 1990.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.