Samuel James Kitson

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Samuel James Kitson (1848–1906) was a fine arts sculptor active in the United States from about 1876 to 1906. He maintained studios in New York City and Boston, Massachusetts. Most of his statuary were executed in marble. Many were religious in nature. His work consisted of full body statues, head and shoulder portraits and friezes. After the death of his older brother John William Kitson he became more active in his Boston Studio where his younger brother Henry Hudson Kitson joined him. This information is provided by his great grand-niece.

Samuel James Kitson was born in Berry Brow Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, on January 1, 1848 to John McWhire and Emma Jaggar Kitson, the third child and second son. He was a most promising artist and attracted a benefactor who provided funds for his continuing education. He studied in Rome Italy 1870-1873 and received two gold awards. After completing his studies, in the mid 1870s he established a studio in Italy where his first patrons (English gentlemen) found him.

In 1878, due to the presence of his older brother J William Kitson in NYC, Samuel spent about one year in both NYC and Boston. where he began to receive private commissions. The first commission was a full bust of Ole Bull whose Boston home was next door to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Kitson returned to his Italian Studio to complete these commissioned works in marble. In 1881 he returned the United States when he was commissioned to execute statuary and architectural elements for the William K Vanderbilt house. Samuel also collaborated with Ellin & Kitson Architectural Sculptors (his brother's firm) whose emphasis was the decoration of churches, commercial buildings and fine residences.

Prior to moving permanently to the United States, Samuel continued showing in his home country of England. He showed twice in Royal Manchester Institution 1874 "Rebecca at the Well" on loan and in 1875 "Isaac" listed for sale for 150 Lbs. Between 1877 and 1880 Kitson exhibited 3 times at the Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts held in the summer.

While most of Samuel's work was not as public as his younger brother Henry Hudson Kitson it is quite extensive. Some of his works are as follows: most of the statuary of the William Kissam Vanderbilt House, New York City; Three Greek God Busts for the Greek Room and two half door panels possibly located in the Music Room in the Henry Marquand House, Orestes Brownson Memorial dedicated 1910, now located at Fordham University in the Bronx, City of New York Parks and Recreation; Exterior reliefs on Samuel Tilden Home (Now the National Arts League in Gramercy Park), Portrait bust of Samuel James Tilden (stolen or destroyed), Statues of Mary and of the Sacred Heart located in the sanctuary of the Catholic Church of the Blessed Sacrament, W 71st St. New York City. The north frieze of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Bushnell Park, Hartford, Connecticut; In Boston Kitson completed many portrait statuary of catholic bishops as well as portrait busts of Massachusetts Governors Benjamin F (General) Butler (now lost) and Frederic T. Greenhalge (located within the Massachusetts Capitol Mall). One of his first United States commissions 1879 was of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The bust is located in stairway hall of the Longfellow National Historical Site|Vassall-Craig-Longfellow House, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Another portrait bust of publisher Daniel Lothrop was commissioned by his widow Harriet (Margaret Sidney) and is in The Wayside House, located within the Minute Man National Historic Park, Concord, Massachusetts. In Arlington National Cemetery is the General Phillip Henry Sheridan Obelisk Monument located just below Arlington House. Portrait Bust of Peter Ambrose McKenna located in the Marlborough MA Public Library, September 27, 1914 Kitson's 7' tall statue "Christ, the Light of the World" was presented by Cardinal Farley to St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY in memory of Archbishop Corrigan.

In 2007 a marble statue "SAPPHO" was sold by Christie's NYC for $20,000 and on September 24, 2008 Kitson's first commission circa 1874 Rome RACHAEL was sold by Christie's London for $12,753. On September 20, 2012 a marble bas-relief "Instruct the Ignorant" circa 1880 was sold by Christie's London for $3234.

Samuel became a naturalized American in 1893. He was married to Anne Meredith of Boston. They had no surviving children and are both buried at Woodlawn next to his brother John William Kitson.


  • Family and Business letters, Award Documents, Studio Photos of executed works held by family historian
  • "A Fine Stone Structure" The Manufacturer and Builder October 1884 page 228,
  • U S Catholic Historical Society 1922 St. Joseph Seminary 1896-1921 by Scanlon & Duffy Page 138
  • Columbia Publishing Company, MA {(Massachusetts Of Today: A Memorial of the State, Historical and Biographical)}, 1892 by Toomey & Juinn, Page 148
  • National Park Service Minute Man National Historic Park, The Wayside, 455 Lexington Rd. Concord, Massachusetts
  • The Church of the Blessed Sacrament Church see website under Architecture
  • Lehman Art Gallery Project, Public Art in the Bronx see website
  • U S Department of Veterans Affairs website
  • National Park Service Longfellow House see website nps/long/historyculture.htm
  • NPS Publication "Homer to Henry Exhibit Bkkolet" July 2008 Pg 3 and Pg 15
  • Tour of the Vassall-Craige-Longfellow House and Garden, see
  • Mapping Sculpture Project University of Glasgow, England see website
  • Harper & Brothers NYC "Life of Samuel J. Tilden", John Bigelow, 1895 Front Piece
  • The Messenger, NYC, The Messenger Vol 41 Pg 695-701 John J a'Becket "Samuel James Kitson, Sculptor"
  • The Sacred Heart Review, Boston College
  • American Art Annual, 1905 Vol 5 Pg 379
  • Donahoe's Magazine Published Boston MA 1906 Vol 56 Pg 633, Henry Coyle "Samuel J Kitson, Sculptor"
  • Historical Society of Marlborough MA 2010 "Marlborough Public Library 1870-2010" pg 6
  • "Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors Vol 4" 1906 Page 336
  • Boston Evening Transcript, Friday Nov 6, 1906, Page 12, Recent Deaths
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1922, E. A. Pace and C. G. Herbermann Page 439
  • "Country, Park and City The Architecture of Calvert Vaux", 1998, F. R. ,Kowsky Pages 288,301-302
  • "The Marquand Mansion", Metropolitan Museum of Art, Journal 29 1994 D O Kisluk-Grosheide, Page 167 Figure 29