Olin Levi Warner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Olin Levi Warner

Olin Levi Warner (April 9, 1844 – August 14, 1896) was an American sculptor and artist noted for the striking bas relief portrait medallions and busts he created in the late 19th century.[1]


Warner was born in Suffield, Connecticut. Warner's great-great-uncle was the Revolutionary leader Seth Warner. As a young man he worked as an artisan and a telegraph operator. In 1869 he had saved up enough money to move to Paris, where he studied sculpture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts under François Jouffroy, and worked as an assistant to Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.[2]

When the French Third Republic was proclaimed in 1870, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion, resuming his studies when the siege was over (May 1871). [3] In 1872, he removed to New York and established a studio. He was one of the founders and a member of the Society of American Artists in 1877,[4] and an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1888.

A trip through the Northwest Territory led to a series of Indian-themed portrait medallions. He designed the souvenir half dollar for the Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.[3]

After meeting with little commercial success, however, he returned to live at his father's farm in Vermont, where he also did work for manufacturers of silver and plated ware. Towards the end of his life his sculptures became known to a wider audience.[3]

He died in 1896, after a cycling accident in New York's Central Park. In the 1970s Warner's heirs donated his collection of personal papers to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Warner is credited with popularizing the bas relief, through numerous portraits in this style. Among his best known works are:

William Lloyd Garrison (1885), on Boston Common
Major General Devens (1892-96), Boston, MA. 
Writing (1896). Bronze tympanum above exterior of main entrance doors, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, DC. 
Memory (1896). Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. 


  1. ^ Tolles, Thayer. "American Relief Sculpture". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–., (October 2006).
  2. ^ Caffin, Charles Henry (1903). American Masters of Sculpture, pp. 133-34. Doubleday, Page & Company.
  3. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ "Olin Levi Warner." The Sovereign Collection Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA. EarthLink
  5. ^ Brooklyn Historical Society Website
  6. ^ Olin Levi Warner Biography. National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington, D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996).

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Warner, Olin Levi". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]