William Wetmore Story
William Wetmore Story (February 12, 1819 – October 7, 1895) was an American sculptor, art critic, poet, and editor.
Life and career
William Wetmore Story was the son of jurist Joseph Story and Sarah Waldo (Wetmore) Story. He graduated from Harvard College in 1838 and the Harvard Law School in 1840. After graduation, he continued his law studies under his father, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar, and prepared two legal treatises of value — Treatise on the Law of Contracts not under Seal (2 vols., 1844) and Treatise on the Law of Sales of Personal Property (1847).
He soon abandoned the law though to devote himself to sculpture, and after 1850 lived in Rome, where he had first visited in 1848, and where he counted among his friends the Brownings and Walter Savage Landor. In 1856, he received a commission for a bust of his late father, now in the Memorial Hall/Lowell Hall, Harvard University. Story's apartment in Palazzo Barberini became a central location for Americans in Rome. During the American Civil War his letters to the Daily News in December 1861 (afterwards published as a pamphlet, The American Question, i.e. of neutrality), and his articles in Blackwood's Magazine, had considerable influence on English opinion.
One of his most famous works, Cleopatra, (1858) was described and admired in Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1860 romance, The Marble Faun, and is on display in New York, NY at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Gallery 700. Another work, the Angel of Grief, has been replicated near the Stanford Mausoleum at Stanford University. Among the other life-size statues he completed were those of Saul, Sappho, Electra, Semiramide, Delilah, Judith, Medea, Jerusalem Desolate, Sardanapolis, Solomon, Orestes, Canidia, and Shakespeare. His Saul was completed in Rome in 1865, and taken to England by Noel Wills who displayed it at Rendcomb College. It is now in the collection of North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh. His Sibyl and Cleopatra were exhibited at the 1863 Universal Exposition in London.
In the 1870s, Story submitted a design for the Washington Monument, then under a prolonged and troubled construction. Although the Washington National Monument Society considered his proposals "vastly superior in artistic taste and beauty" to the original 1836 design by Robert Mills, they were not adopted, and the monument was completed to Mills' scheme, only slightly modified. Story also sculpted a bronze statue of Joseph Henry on the Mall in Washington, D.C., the scientist who served as the Smithsonian Institution's first Secretary. His works Libyan Sibyl, Medea and Cleopatra are on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA.
Story died at Vallombrosa Abbey, Italy, a place he was sentimentally attached to and which he chronicled in an informal travel journal, Vallombrosa in 1881. He is buried with his wife, Emelyn Story, in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome, under a statue of his own design, Angel of Grief.
His children also pursued artistic careers: Thomas Waldo Story (1854–1915) became a sculptor; Julian Russell Story (1857–1919) was a successful portrait painter; and Edith Marion (1844–1907), the Marchesa Peruzzi de' Medici, became a writer.
- Statue of George Peabody next to the Royal Exchange, London, 1869. A replica, erected in 1890, stands next to the Peabody Institute, Mount Vernon Park, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Joseph Henry Memorial, Washington D.C., 1883
- Chief Justice John Marshall Memorial, Washington D.C., 1884
- Angel of Grief, 1894, monument to his dead wife.
- Statue of Joseph Story, his father, in Harvard Law School's Langdell Hall
- Life and Letters of Joseph Story, 1851
- Wetmore Story, William (1863). Roba di Roma Volume 1. Fourth Edition, 1864, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (A collection of contemporary observations of Rome.)
- Proportions of the Human Figure, London, 1864
- Roba di Roma Volume 2. https://archive.org/details/robadiroma02stor
- Fiammetta, 1885 (a novel)
- Conversations in a Studio, Boston, 1890
- Excursions in Art and Letters, Boston, 1891
- His poems were collected in two volumes in 1885. Among the longer are “A Roman Lawyer in Jerusalem” (a rehabilitation of Judas Iscariot), "A Jewish Rabbi in Rome," Tragedy of Nero” (1872) and "Ginevra di Siena." The last named, with "Cleopatra," was included in his Graffiti d'Italia, a collection published in 1868.
Angel of Grief, Rome
Chief Justice John Marshall, Philadelphia
George Peabody, London
George Peabody (Baltimore, Maryland)
The Libyan Sibyl at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.)
- Chisholm 1911.
- "Acquisitions of the month: December 2018". Apollo Magazine.
- Dizionario degli Artisti Italiani Viventi: pittori, scultori, e Architetti., by Angelo de Gubernatis. Tipe dei Successori Le Monnier, 1889, page 498.
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press..
- Phillips, Mary E., Reminiscences of William Wetmore Story: The American Sculptor and Author, Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1897.
- James, Henry, William Wetmore Story and his Friends: From Letters, Diaries, and Recollections. In two volumes. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1903-1904. Vol. 1 | Vol. 2
- Thomas Waldo Story (1855–1915)
- William W. Story, 'Vallombrosa', Firenze: Clinamen, 2002.
- The Lure of Italy. American Artists and the Italian Experience, ed. by Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1992, pp. 19, 25, 27, 46, 58, 63- 64 and passim.
- P. Coen, Il recupero del Rinascimento: Arte, politica e mercato nei primi anni di Roma capitale (1870-1911), Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana Editoriale, 2020, pp. 177–187 and passim, ISBN 9788836645435
- Works by William Wetmore Story at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about William Wetmore Story at Internet Archive
- Works by William Wetmore Story at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Poems at sonnets.org
- William Wetmore Story at Find a Grave
- Finding aid to William Wetmore Story letters at Columbia University. Rare Book & Manuscript Library.