While I send this out for review, please read and comment on my article on Louisa Lander, 19th-century Massachusetts sculptor. I make new attributions to her body of work, list “lost” sculptures, and establish her places of death and burial.

Reviving Louisa: new light illuminates a neoclassical feminist sculptor

Louisa Lander, engraving from the Cosmopolitan Art Journal, March, 1861


   I walk down Chestnut Street in Salem on a freezing February afternoon, the white sky predicting snow. Wide and straight, at least by Salem standards, the street is lined with large and stately clapboard homes. Perhaps because of the cold, the neighborhood is quiet and deserted, and as I pick my way over narrow, frost-rucked brick sidewalks it’s not difficult to imagine Salem in 1860, or 1880, or 1923, the year of Louisa Lander’s memorial service at number 22.

   A yellow double house in the Federal style, 22 Chestnut Street was the home of Miss Anna Endicott. Anna’s family must have been close to the Landers; Louisa died at age 98, outliving her immediate contemporaries. The Endicott home is four blocks from 5 Summer Street, the three-story brick townhouse where Louisa lived so much of her life, and another two blocks from the Broad Street Cemetery, where Louisa is buried near her mother and brother Frederick.

   Having spent the day in the Phillips Library reading Lander family papers, I thought of Louisa’s large, bold, spidery handwriting, so much like her brother Edward’s and her father’s. Louisa’s extraordinary family included an explorer and dashing Union General feared by Stonewall Jackson (brother Frederick); a federal judge who defended Puget Sound settlers and Native Americans from a rapacious governor (brother Edward); a well-known young-adult author whose travel books are still in print (sister Sarah); and a notorious heiress (grandmother Elizabeth Derby West), daughter of America’s richest man, who created a home of dramatic beauty: three of its rooms are recreated in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

   When Lander walked on Salem’s streets, she was part of an interconnected web of family, merchants, and friends—yet she was a quiet and singular woman who imagined that a face like her own could be the new symbol of a new America. Her art used female subjects almost without exception to embody ideas of loyalty, sacrifice, honor, and longing. She was, in short, imagining an entirely new sculptural world with women at its core, and had the means, education, support, and intellect to carry it through.

Carolyn Wirth

Salem, Massachusetts, Winter, 2019


   Louisa Lander’s life story raises all of the usual feminist questions about who writes history, and whom history is written for. The legends around her life fit romantic stereotypes of betrayal, rejection, and resulting personal instability. Lander’s sculpture was created over long decades of study and practice of a difficult craft; her reputation was unfairly damaged by jealous gossip; her sculptures are lost or misattributed. Contemporary writers called her a genius, and one of the preeminent American sculptors of the age, but some of her greatest work has vanished without a trace.

   I first became interested in Louisa Lander when I saw her bust of Nathaniel Hawthorne in the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, Massachusetts. This library doubles as a gallery of neoclassical sculpture, featuring marble portraits of Transcendentalist notables by Daniel Chester French, another Concord native. Amid this ghostly assembly, Lander’s work is somehow alive. It is free of stifling detail, and an alert, almost tense expression seems modern. That this arresting portrait was by a woman, was exhilarating.

   Most information I was at first able to find about Lander relies on a few inaccurate accounts, repeated again and again: she died alone in Washington DC, a broken woman, talking to her statue of Virginia Dare. This legend fits a conventional narrative of female tragedy and madness, and, as it turns out, never fit the buoyant, intellectual, and well-traveled woman whose talent carried her to Rome and whose supportive, close-knit family were as extraordinary as she was.


   When Maria Louisa Lander was born on Broad Street in Salem, Massachusetts, on September 1st 1826, 1  her home city was old by American standards. A deep, sheltered bay had early provided a base for profitable maritime trade and housed miles of wharves. Salem traders visited Sumatra, St. Petersburg, The Bay of Bengal, Canton, and Cuba. Unlike the hectic whaling hub of New Bedford, or low-lying Boston surrounded by fens and so recently occupied by enemy troops, hilly Salem afforded views of a crenelated coast, the enormous sails of merchant ships approaching from every corner of the world. The city was a gracious background for a social elite boasting the greatest per capita wealth in America. Salem merchants and sea captains funded cultural institutions, churches, and mansions, creating a civic taste for culture and the celebration of town history. Luxury goods: sugar, spices, exotic furniture and fabrics, ceramics, and even a live elephant could be bought, sold, or merely gawked at. 2


   Louisa Lander was the 7th of eight children born to Edward and Eliza West Lander. Eliza was the daughter of the notorious Elizabeth Derby West, herself the daughter of the richest man in America and the first woman to win a divorce suit and retain her own fortune. Feisty Elizabeth brought a group of prostitutes to court to prove her husband’s infidelity. That she took this flamboyant step, which ruined her reputation, speaks to an innate determination and confidence, traits which were at the time condemned as “vanity and willfulness”.

   As a little girl, Lousia was quiet and thoughtful, and loved to draw and look at art. She modeled replacement heads out of sealing wax for two of her broken dolls; the results were good enough that her mother chose to display them. Louisa saved stone from a broken alabaster clock, and with a penknife carved small sculptures from the pieces. She carved cameos, drew and painted, and studied anatomy as best she could at the Essex Institute, even once borrowing human finger bones which she brought to the tea table. 3

   Although reserved, Louisa was loyal, had a good sense of humor, and seems to have made friends easily.  When her friendship with the Nathaniel Hawthornes was still in full bloom, she once entertained the children by dressing up as an “old New England Dame” and tottering about the room with a cane until the family was in stitches. Hawthorne himself wrote: “I like her exceedingly.”

Oak Hill and the Derby Chest

   Oak Hill, the exquisite rural estate decorated by Louisa’s notorious grandmother, was her home from age 6 (1832) until her mother’s death in 1849, when the family returned to Salem proper. Oak Hill featured elaborate gardens and a pond full of many varieties of Egyptian lotus flowers; painted panels by Corné in the parlors; drawing room walls covered in rose-colored damask, and furniture and carvings by Samuel McIntire. (Three of Oak Hill’s magnificent neoclassical rooms are reconstructed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, although the house itself was razed and the site is under the present-day North Shore Mall in Danvers.) 4

   A singular piece of art that Louisa grew up with is the so-called “Derby Chest-on-Chest,” a masterpiece by the early 19th century cabinet maker and self-taught sculptor Samuel McIntire. This large, tall, mahogany chest of drawers is topped with a cornice whose central figure is a 15-inch carved sculpture of a woman, known as “America.” Commissioned by Louisa’s grandmother, this chest remained in the family and was in Louisa’s own possession for most of her life. 5

   Young Louisa must have daily looked at proud “America” at Oak Hill, and long afterward. McIntire’s America is a young woman, wearing a flowing, long gown, holding in her right hand a laurel wreath and in her left a liberty pole. She wears a large brooch in the shape of a sun disc on her Empire-waisted ensemble (a new fashion in the neoclassical mode). In his comprehensive survey of the life and work of McIntire, Peabody Essex Museum curator Dean Lahikainen mentions that the symbolic attributes of America—”Victory, Authority, Virtue…Liberty Pole, Sun—are heightened with gilding, perhaps indicating their representation of the chief values of the young nation”.

   But more important than material comfort, even the sumptuous furnishings of Oak Hill, was the understanding and tolerance Edward and Eliza showed for young Louisa’s idiosyncrasies. Both mother and father encouraged their daughter, and were proud of her talent, however many un-ladylike accommodations needed to be made.  According to an article in the Cosmopolitan Art Journal, Louisa’s mother arranged a studio for her in the nearby “farmhouse” and provided her with wood, shell, stone, and wax to model and carve.6  Louisa was also able to study anatomy at the Essex Institute and presumably given free reign, hence the bones-at-the-tea-table incident. As was standard practice, Louisa probably studied and copied existing sculpture, but soon branched out into her own subject matter.

   Louisa’s family considered her talent to be equal to that of other well-known American artists, as seen in The Catalogue of the Twenty-Eighth Exhibition of Paintings and Statuary at the Athenaeum Gallery (The Boston Athenaeum). This 1855 exhibit lists a “Bust of a Gentleman” by L. Lander, loaned by an E. Lander.7  It is presumed that this piece was a portrait of her father, Edward Lander, but like many of Louisa’s sculptures it has been lost. Father Edward accompanied Louisa to Rome where she hoped to win a place in the studio of Thomas Crawford. This was an unconventional move for a mid-19th century paterfamilias, but it demonstrated the support of Louisa’s family, to whom she seems to have been extraordinarily close.

Elizabeth Ellet comments on Lander’s personality and early work

   The prolific 19th-century writer and voluminous chronicler of American women, Elizabeth Ellet, comments on Lander’s personality, calling her “grave and thoughtful, serious and reserved at all times, and decided in her judgment, which was always according to the dictates of good sense.”

   “When a very little child, she modeled two heads for broken dolls…of light sealing wax, and the modeling of both was so wonderfully accurate that her mother would not allow the child to play with them, but kept them as curiosities.” Ellet reiterates stories of Lander carving cameos at a young age: several Lander cameos exist in the Peabody Essex Museum’s collections.

   Ellet continues: “Her first modeling was a bas-relief portrait of her father; it was followed by a bust of her brother, the late Chief Justice of Washington territory” (Edward Lander). 8

The Neoclassical World

   Neoclassicism, an international aesthetic style, developed in the early years of the 19th century. The emphasis in sculpture was on the idealized human body, like the art of ancient Greece. Recent excavations of classical sculpture at Herculaneum and Pompeii whetted the public’s appetite for ancient art. That the excavated sculpture mostly lost its original bright painting and inlay escaped the notice of many; the imitative fashion arose of sculpture in pure white marble and became ubiquitous.

   Following on the heels of Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, whose idealized, yet realistic sculptures of the human body were carved in local white marble, American sculptors traveled to Rome to study and to set up studios of their own. Horatio Greenough was the first American sculptor to set up shop near Rome in 1825, and many others soon followed. Tourists from Europe and America were ready buyers for their art, and supported a thriving artists’ colony.

   Quarries at Carrara and Seraveza had plentiful supplies of high quality marble; skilled craftsmen and carvers, dozens of whom could be called upon as needed to complete a single large monument, were readily available. An unbelievable (to the historic American eye) wealth of classical and Renaissance sculpture was on view—in churches, galleries, museums, and the streets—offering an instant education for those who could spend time in Rome or Florence.9

   Thomas Crawford, a successful American sculptor, established a large and busy studio in Rome in 1835. He received several significant commissions for the United States Capitol building in 1853, including a 60-foot pediment with 13 life-size marble figures. It’s probable that Louisa saw his “Orpheus” on display at the Boston Athenaeum in 1844, when she was eighteen; at any rate, she decided to ask him to be her teacher. He, in turn, needed many skilled workers who could independently carve, model, and paint.

In a Sculptor’s Studio: Thomas Crawford and the Neoclassical in Rome

   In 1852, when she was 26, Louisa sailed with her father to Rome, carrying an ambrotype of her bust titled “To-Day.” Lander’s intent was to visit Crawford’s Roman studio and become his student, the first step in her own career. Lander no doubt considered “To-Day” her masterpiece. The bust has been described by Elizabeth Ellet as the head of a young woman, life-size, wearing a “chaplet of morning glories,” her robe fastened at the shoulders with brooches shaped like stars. The dynamic of the piece was one of forward motion, and to emphasize this, one of the morning glories had fallen from its headpiece and was resting on the figure’s neck.10

   Crawford had one of the busiest workshops of all the American expatriate sculptors. Unfortunately, many of his papers from Louisa’s tenure in his studio have not survived, although this quote from later writings tells how Crawford delegated much of his sculpting to students and staff.

“The secret of being able to complete a great variety of work is to be found in the power of the artist to invent, compose, and direct, thus the hands of others become, a it were, his hands, and younger artists who can do nothing alone may be made serviceable in many ways.

…Assistants properly directed have at all times enabled the great artists of the past and present to accomplish innumerable works, each having the distinctive impress of the master mind. Thus, schools have been created, youthful talent has been brought forward, and the country of the master artist has been enriched.” 11

   In White Silence, Sylvia Crane notes that Crawford had about fifty workmen under his supervision, among them two Americans who had come to Rome to study sculpture: Louisa Lander (Crane incorrectly says “Maria Louise Lander”) and J. Augustus Beck of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After Crawford’s death, Lander opened her own studio and Beck moved to Florence to work for Hiram Powers, eventually becoming a landscape and portrait painter.12

   Did Crawford accept Lander as his pupil because he saw in “To-Day” an idea that could be used for the central figure in the “Progress of Civilization” pediment? The complex sculptural group was carved between fall 1853 and spring, 1856. Though Lander’s conception of “To-Day” may have resonances of Samuel McIntire—and Crawford’s “America” certainly employs established tropes of neoclassical symbolism—the energy of the Capitol’s “America” calls to mind a newer, feminine, conception of the figure.

   A series of restorations in 2016 resulted in clear photographs of each sculpture in the massive 60-foot-long “Progress of Civilization.”  “America” is the standing figure of a young woman whose loose, flowing hair is held in place by a chaplet not of morning glories, but stars. Her long flag-cloak is fastened at each shoulder by a round brooch. Her expression is open and alert, her eyes upraised, her mouth parted as though about to speak. On her head is a liberty cap—the knitted hat given to freed Roman slaves and adopted as the symbol of the French revolution’s partisans. In her right hand she carries an oak and laurel wreaths (representing both military and economic success), and at her left foot sits an eagle clutching a group of arrows. Her left hand, palm outwards, seems to gesture towards the eagle.13

   While Lander’s photograph of “To-Day,” and indeed the sculpture itself, may have been lost, stylistic and technical similarities exist. In addition to the loose hair decorated with a chaplet, cloak pinned with stars, and forward-striding demeanor, a technical peculiarity of carving stands out. Crawford’s “America” has long hair which, instead of being treated as a mass, is carved into distinct, ropy strands. These are supported by small struts in the manner of ancient Roman techniques for carving and stabilizing the deep channels created by representation of long, wavy hair—something an artist would have known from close observation of classical antiquities in Rome.14

   In at least one major work, bunches of long, “ropy” hair were a device used by Lander. Her sculpture of Evangeline was reviewed as part of an exhibit in New York’s Dusseldorf Gallery in the The New York Times. The sculpture was praised overall, but was criticized for its heavy hair which obscured the face.

“…the first thing which catches the eye of the visitor is a statuette of “Evangeline,” the heroine of LONGFELLOW’S poem of that name. It is the work of the American sculptress, Miss LOUISA LANDER, of Salem, Mass., and reflects great credit on the lady, who is, as yet, but a young artist…

   The sculptress has imparted a great deal of the beautiful serenity, the happy peace which this line suggests, to her little figure, which reposed full length on a flowery bank…the workmanship of the piece is very elaborate and beautiful. It has a few faults, one of which is a superabundance of long, thick, ropy bunches of hair, hanging on each side of the almost infantile face and extremely delicate form of the sleeping girl…”15

   As misfortune would have it, Crawford died of eye cancer in 1857, only two years after Louisa’s arrival. The work on the pediment was complete, and it was installed in Washington, DC.

   Louisa remained in Rome and set up her own studio. She was far from alone; a group of American expatriate women sculptors were there at the same time, including Harriet Hosmer, Emma Stebbins, and Edmonia Lewis. William Wetmore Story, Joseph Mozier, Paul Akers, and other male American artists were also active in Rome. Tourists made a point of visiting artist’s studios, which were listed in guidebooks. To bring back a piece of sculpture or a painting from one’s Italian Grand Tour was a hallmark of good taste and prestige.

Process of Making Sculpture it the 19th Century

   Making sculpture was much more than an individual endeavor. Some few, like Louisa’s contemporary Edmonia Lewis, did their own marble carving—essentially, their own manufacturing—at least, of small and medium-sized works. But more usual was the following process:

   First, an artist would often make a small version of the sculpture as a kind of three-dimensional sketch, called a maquette. Once a design had been worked out, an armature was made. In the nineteenth century, armatures for large sculptures were made of iron by a blacksmith, and looked similar to a minimal skeleton covered with dangling supports—small crosses of wood called “butterflies”. The iron armatures had to be measured carefully to dimensions taken from the model or sitter. A strong armature is necessary for work in clay because the weight of wet clay, unassisted, would collapse. Hired artisans would also, typically, do the first roughing-in layer of clay.

   The artist would then, in the presence of the sitter or her sketches, work on the clay piece, adding and subtracting, always keeping the damp clay covered to prevent it drying out and cracking.  Because clay is easily ruined—dry clay cracks, soggy clay sags—a plaster copy was made in order to preserve the work exactly. This was done by making a re-usable plaster mold over the clay, designed in sections keyed to one another so they fit exactly. Most artists could make smaller molds themselves, if they chose—others hired artisans to do this step. The re-usable plaster mold was used to make one or more plaster copies of the original clay piece. To cast in bronze or other metal, a wax version was made in the mold and sent to a bronze foundry for lost-wax casting. For a marble sculpture, a plaster cast was sent to a carving studio where specialized artisans could also enlarge or reduce the scale of the piece. The number of these artisans varied from project to project, but there were always specialists: These would have included a smodellatore (who specialized in roughing out the marble block using a pointing system); an ornatista (who refined all ornamental forms except the human figure); a pannista (who sculpted drapery); and several scultori (who refined and detailed the human figure). One of the attractions of sculptors to Rome was its proximity to high-quality marble and a legion of artisans necessary to carve and finish the stone, many of whom were professional sculptors in their own right.

   Louisa Lander would have seen all of these operations in Crawford’s studio where she studied for two years, and she would have been expected to be versatile in all techniques of modeling and carving. Lander is said to have done the final finishing—the fine carving and surface polishing—of at least one sculpture all by herself— the life sized Virginia Dare.

Lander’s Roman Studio

   When Hawthorne sat for his portrait, he wrote in the French and Italian Notebooks,

“I went out in the forenoon, and took a sitting at Miss Lander’s studio, she having done me the honor to request me to sit for my bust…I talked a good deal with Miss Lander, being a little inclined to take a similar freedom with her moral likeness to that which she was taking with my physical one.”  Hawthorne mentions that Lander’s studio is rather dreary, housing only the tools and materials needed for work. This in contrast to Harriet Hosmer’s more charmingly decorated space, made homey with flowers and cushions (the contrasting studios reflect to some degree differences in the artists’ personalities).16

   “Miss Lander has become strongly attached to Rome, and says that when she dreams of home, it is merely of paying a short visit, and coming back before her trunk is unpacked” writes Hawthorne, “This is a strange fascination that Rome exersizes[sic] upon artists: I think it is the peculiar mode of life, and its freedom from the inthralments of society, more than the artistic advantages which Rome offers.”17

   Hawthorne seems to have admired the fact that Lander “…is living here quite alone, in delightful freedom, and has sculpted two or three things that may make her favorably known. ‘Virginia Dare’ is certainly very beautiful.” 18

   The prolific Elizabeth Ellet cites a “letter from Rome” in her cornucopia-like Women Artists in All Ages and Countries for a tantalizing list of Louisa’s lost works seen in her Roman studio: 19

  1. Undine
  2. Sylph
  3. Bas-relief of Mountford
  4. Galatea
  5. Ceres Mourning for Proserpine
  6. Virginia Dare (1/2 life size)
  7. Elizabeth, the Exile of Siberia

   Published in 1859, Ellet’s account of Lander captures her at the first moment of early fame and independence. Lander had been working hard, creating a body of sculpture she no doubt hoped would gain her fame and commissions in America.

Louisa Lander and Nathaniel Hawthorne

   Much has been written about Louisa Lander’s bust of Nathaniel Hawthorne: her friendship with Hawthorne’s family in Rome; her close ties with the family; Hawthorne’s ready agreement to sit for Louisa; the success of the resulting marble bust, now in the collection of the Concord, Massachusetts Free Public Library.

   Louisa had been in Rome for several years, working for Crawford and subsequently establishing her own studio, when Nathaniel Hawthorne arrived in Rome on the grand tour he and his wife Sophia were taking with their children. Louisa paid a call on the Hawthornes, fellow Salemites, in January of 1858, just a few days after their arrival.  Louisa was almost immediately accepted into the family circle, going on excursions and acting as a guide, taking meals with the family, and ultimately, sculpting a bust of Nathaniel at the height of his fame.

   Louisa seems to have been admired by all of the Hawthornes. In March, after a family excursion to the Roman Catacombs, Louisa entertained the girls as she “turned into an old New England dame for baby’s amusement—with admirable truth—in muslin cap and spectacles, old brown cloak and black gown and cane. She looked an hundred years old, and was not Miss Lander at all. We laughed beyond all comfort and propriety” 20

   Soon after this evening, Nathaniel Hawthorne began sitting for Louisa at her studio. On some occasions he and his wife went together, but on other occasions he went alone, and this may have started rumors that damaged Louisa’s career. Hawthorne initially wrote in glowing terms to his publisher, William Ticknor of Ticknor and Fields, that the portrait was: “Excellent…even Mrs. Hawthorne is delighted with it.”  He asked Ticknor to “…do what may be in your power to bring Miss Lander’s name favorably before the public; for she is coming back to America (for the summer only) and might be greatly benefited by receiving commissions for busts etc.” 21

   When Louisa finished Hawthorne’s portrait, she left it to be carved by Roman craftsmen, and returned home to America in the summer of 1858.

Lander Returns to Salem in 1858

   Louisa returned to Salem in the spring of 1858 with the intention of finding new commissions to bring back to her studio in Rome. Prominent Salem citizens had tried to drum up interest in a public monument honoring Leslie’s Retreat, a pre-Lexington-and-Concord skirmish at North Bridge (Salem) in which British troops were dissuaded from capturing a store of munitions. A statue representing Liberty, with accompanying bas-reliefs, was suggested. 22 The Salem Register argued “…Salem people surely appreciate what is noble, beautiful and refined, and it is a reflection upon themselves not to value aright their native genius and skill.” 23  Special committees were formed to raise funds, but nothing came of the project, probably since there was disagreement of the actual nature of the North Bridge incident and whether or not it was worth memorializing. Perhaps the life size group “America Defending Her Children” (also known as “Pioneer Mother Defending Her Children,” and other titles) was Lander’s bid for this monument, assigned a different identity once the North Bridge project fell through.

   Lander did produce a bust of former Governor Christopher Gore, from a portrait by John Trumbull, a difficult task as she could not model from life. This piece was made for Harvard University, and is still there, in a large dining room off-limits to the public in the University’s Memorial Hall.

A Roman Scandal

   Upon return to Rome with her oldest sister Elizabeth, Louisa called on the Hawthornes but was snubbed. Eventually she received an brief letter from Nathaniel written in the third person. In his curt and stilted note, Hawthorne calls upon Louisa to clear her name, and explains that he cannot see her in order to protect the reputation of his family.

   Sculptor John Rogers, a young cousin of Louisa’s also studying in Rome, was struggling to adapt to the neoclassical style, but his tabletop genre scenes of homespun American life were soon to be popular in middle-class homes. In 1858, he wrote to his family about Louisa’s plight:          
“She has the reputation of having lived on uncommonly good terms with some man here. She is very vain of her figure and a number of respectable people affirm that she has exposed herself as a model before them in a way that would astonish all modest yankees—I suppose there is not much doubt of that part of the story and it probably forms the foundation of all the rest…If I had been in her place such a loss of reputation would have killed me I believe but she snaps her finger at all of Rome and has not the least desire to leave.” 24

   That Louisa could so easily—it seemed—obtain an important commission from the most famous writer in America must have rankled the American artist community in Rome, ever a small and gossiping world. In fact, news of Louisa’s indiscretion was brought to the ear of Hawthorne by American painter Cephas Giovanni Thompson, who had earlier painted Hawthorne’s portrait.25

   We do not know specifics, as neither Hawthorne nor Lander commented on the situation in writing (or any that now exists). The limits of Victorian propriety for women were so narrow, so fraught with nuance, that almost any behavior on a woman’s part, taken out of context, could ruin her reputation­—thought not the man’s, an irony Hawthorne himself examined in his historical novel, The Scarlet Letter.  Women were, for example, forbidden to study art from nude models, or attend anatomy classes; they were still excluded from most American universities. Any accusation of sexual impropriety–no matter how baseless–made against any young woman was likely to be taken as fact.

   Did Louisa pose for another artist in the nude, or in clothing that was revealing? Did the gossip about her being on “uncommon good terms with some man or other” refer to her unchaperoned sessions with Hawthorne himself? Was their friendship too close for the comfort of Hawthorne’s wife, or Lander’s rivals, or all of them combined?  That Hawthorne did not defend his friend and turned her away from his door with a cruel note, may have been an attempt to deflect attention from his own guilt in the matter. He distanced himself effectively from the woman he liked so much: it was not until the 1970s that Hawthorne’s relationship with Lander was discovered. Sophia Hawthorne attempted to delete all mention of Lander in family documents. Such scrupulous erasure of Lander’s name may be proof of a well-connected wife’s jealousy. The family disposed of Lander’s marble portrait, donating it to the Concord Library in 1873.

   Louisa’s reaction to this salacious gossip was to ignore it. Louisa was, at this point in her life, a 32-year-old woman of mature intellect and developed talent. She was not a young girl, to be quietly put aside, persuaded to alter her own perceptions, or be pressured into revealing her personal life before a group of strangers. The sculptor William Wetmore Story, who may have had mixed motives, tried to call a meeting at which Louisa was to plead her case and defend her reputation. Louisa did not attend. Her silence on the matter was seen as further proof of guilt by some.26  Louisa’s independent nature and her patrician upbringing allowed her to “snap her fingers at all of Rome,” as her cousin Paul Rogers commented. It’s likely that Louisa saw no reason to dignify gossip with a response.

Harriet Hosmer: Another Roman Scandal

   The sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who had grown up near Boston, arrived in Rome in 1852 and became a pupil of British Sculptor John Gibson. Her studio was near Lander’s, in a large building that had belonged to Antonio Canova and had been divided up into several smaller spaces. Hosmer’s wide and influential social circle included renowned actress Charlotte Cushman, sculptor Emma Stebbins, African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, and other American expatriate sculptors including William Wetmore Story. Hosmer cultivated friends and patrons in the British aristocracy, and local celebrities like the Barret Brownings, who lived in Florence. An excellent horsewoman who was fond of games and wrote humorous poetry, Hosmer was popular and outgoing, in contrast to the retiring, quiet Lander. When her own scandal broke in 1863, Hosmer, no doubt the wiser for seeing how Lander had been treated, was prepared to wage battle and rallied her many friends.

    Hosmer’s masterwork, Zenobia in Chains, represented the captured queen of Palmyra as she was paraded in defeat through the streets of Rome. It received wide critical acclaim and was copied in several sizes, finding ready purchasers. However, a persistent rumor arose that Hosmer had not made the sculpture herself, and this gossip was eventually published in British journals, notably an 1863 issue of The Queen. In an 1864 letter to the Art Journal, Hosmer pulled no punches, stating: “A woman artist who has been honored by frequent commissions is an object of peculiar odium. I am not particularly popular with any of my bretheren; but I may yet feel myself called upon to make public the name of one in whom these reports first originated…” Hosmer forced The Queen and Art Journal to print retractions; although she never publicly revealed the name of her detractor, she did so privately. 27

   In a letter to her friend, sculptor Hiram Powers, Hosmer claimed that the American sculptor Joseph Mozier was the one who had slandered her work on “Zenobia.” None other than Thomas Crawford once said that Mozier had “completely burned out his heart with envy, jealousy and such charming passions.”28 To vindicate herself once and for all, Hosmer wrote a description of a sculptor’s studio practice for The Atlantic Monthly that was complete and to the point. She outlined the staff of artisans who produced a large sculpture—from those who made the metal armature to those who made the mold and pointed up (enlarged or reduced), and others who chiseled marble drapery, human form, flowers, etc. depending on their area of specialization. Both male and female sculptors availed themselves of the marble artisans of Italy; in fact, it was one of the chief reasons that Greenough, Crawford, Story, Powers, and so many others established studios there.

   Hosmer wrote a satiric poem, The Ballad of the Caffe Greco, in which the muse of tragedy, Melpomene, observes male artists gossip about female artists in Rome:

…Tis time my friends, we cogitate,

And make some desperate stand

Or else our sister artists here

Will drive us from the land.

    It does seem hard that we at last

Have rivals in the clay

When for so many happy years

We had it all our way. 29

   Perhaps it was Mozier, jealous and wishing to eliminate talented rivals, who initiated malicious gossip about Louisa Lander. Certainly Hosmer, referring to a successful woman as “an object of peculiar odium” was describing prejudice so widespread that it seems to apply to all women sculptors.

Lander Returns to the Boston Area in 1860

   When Lander returned to America for good in 1860, she immediately began to show and sell pieces she shipped to Boston from Rome. Lander received press coverage and exhibits in the most prominent Boston venues, among them the Boston Athenaeum and the Williams & Everett Gallery. She also shipped sculpture to the prestigious Dusseldorf Gallery in New York City. Work shown at these galleries included her Evangeline, from Longfellow’s poem, a small statuette of Virginia Dare, the water nymph Undine, and a six-foot group of three figures, Pioneer Mother Defending Her Daughters.

Virginia Dare

   The story of Virginia Dare, the first white child born in America, was not widely known before Louisa Lander brought it to the nation’s attention during the Civil War. Lander evidently viewed an exhibit about the story of the lost colony of Roanoke at the British Museum, en route to Rome. That she imagined a common experience with Virginia Dare—a young girl growing up close to nature in the woods of America—must have been amplified by the freedom she experienced living in Rome. Her life size Virginia Dare sculpture was exhibited in downtown Boston’s Studio Building in 1861 for the benefit of Union troops (visitors were charged fifty cents), and Lander turned this publicity into a promotional opportunity. For the exhibit, Lander wrote a four-page pamphlet tellingly titled The National Statue. Lander’s two-page essay envisions a new American symbol—a young English woman living a life of Native American freedom in the southern wilderness. A list of Lander’s recent sculpture—most newly brought from Rome—is on the back of the pamphlet. A description of the history of the lost English colony at Roanoke indicates that the general public was unfamiliar with the Dare story. 30

   It’s not known exactly which images of the Roanoke colony Lander saw during her sojourn in the British Museum. It’s fascinating, however, to look at a drawing of a Native American woman—widely copied—by John White, the English expedition’s artist, and grandfather to baby Virginia Dare. With a couple of changes to the composition—placing a heron on the sculpture’s right, removing the pot carried by the woman in the drawing—the pose is strikingly similar, as is placement of the jewelry. Perhaps the heron at Virginia’s side is a clever nod to a different bird, the eagle accompanying America in the “Progress of Civilization.” There is a time-worn joke in the design business: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Whether Lander was good or great is a judgement this author’s research will hopefully establish. But Louisa borrowed more than a simple pose: she chose to relay a frank and confident presentation of the self.

   Lander was probably well aware that her intellectual contribution to American neoclassical sculpture was an ability to create new symbols from American lore and literature. Presenting a woman of self-possessed bearing as a “National Statue” runs counter to the fashionable, often semi-erotic, representation of women in neoclassical sculpture. The critically acclaimed “Greek Slave,” by Hiram Powers, to which Virginia Dare was sometimes compared, depicts a downcast, helpless young woman, completely nude and titilatingly chained to a post.

   Louisa’s famous brother Frederick, the Union General, explorer, and writer, composed a descriptive poem about Virginia Dare, the statue (“She stands before us like a thing of dreams…” ), and took an opportunity to celebrate Louisa herself in the last verse.

            …Ye arbiters of calling and true fame,

            Translators of divinities ye blend

            From faith and hope in Freedom’s household name;

            Ye judges stern, whom sophistries offend,

            Here view the grace that woman’s hand can lend

            To all ye love; who, where eternal Rome

            Bids artist souls to loftier themes ascend,

            Could mould the tale of dear Virginia’s home,

            And love her native land beneath a foreign dome. 31

   Critics were still praising “Virginia Dare” in 1865, as in an essay signed by “W” in the March 16, 1865 Boston Evening Transcript:

Virginia Dare

In this statue we see what we have long wished to see, our country represented by our sculptors. What have we to do with Palmyra, Europe and Africa? Let us congratulate Miss Lander on having nobly written the first page of our nation’s history in undying marble. “Zenobia” and “Africa” tell an old story, but in Virginia Dare centers an interest that stirs the heart of every true American….” 32

     “W” notes that Lander did all the final finishing of the marble herself….preserving “the vitality that comes and only comes from the hand of genius.”

   “W” ’s allusions to “Palmyra” and “Africa” are digs at two of Lander’s fellow American neoclassical sculptors, Harriet Hosmer (“Zenobia in Chains”) and Anne Whitney (“Ethiopia Shall Soon Stretch Out Her Hands to God,” also called “Africa”). W implicitly criticizes them for a lack of national pride in taking subjects from Greco-Roman mythology and ancient history. Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, was captured by the Roman Emperor Aurelian; abolitionist Anne Whitney strove to represent a generic African “type” in her sculpture of a reclining nude African woman.

   The Cosmopolitan Art Journal (Vol. 5) praises Lander: “The record shows not only the vast industry of the lady, but affords a pleasant proof of the progress made in Modern opinion as regards “woman’s sphere” and woman’s capabilities. That she is endowed with genius for her profession is conceded even by those hypocrites who cavail at “women-artists;” while, but the unbiased and discerning, she is regarded as one of those artists who will add lustre to the American name should her life be spared and she be permitted to pursue her profession uninterruptedly.” 33

   In May of 1861, the Boston Evening Transcript reports that Louisa was “associated with Miss Dix” in assisting wounded soldiers in Washington, DC. Dorothea Dix had arrived in Washington, DC the month before to oversee army hospitals. No doubt Louisa was doing all she was able to support her brother, the Union Army, and the cause of her New England home. It is likely that Louisa was back in Salem at 5 Summer Street in 1862, the year her father died and her champion, her brother Frederick, succumbed to illness after the battle of Bloomery Gap. She and her sisters are recorded in the 1865 town census at that address.

Lander’s subject matter

   Apart from her portraits, Louisa Lander’s subjects were women. Drawn from contemporary popular literature, myth, and folklore, they form a somewhat melancholy group. Only “To-Day” and “Virginia Dare” seem triumphant, each in charge of her own destiny. Most of Lander’s chosen subjects—the protagonists of her body of work—are women undergoing trial or transformation. Lander chose literary works with an eye to not only the popularity of the poem or story, but also the symbolic messages embodied by brave, betrayed, and independent female characters.

   John Greenleaf Whittier, abolitionist poet, wrote the popular romantic poem Maud Muller in 1856. Published as an illustrated booklet, it tells the story of a young woman who, while working in her family’s hayfield, meets a handsome judge of higher social standing. The two exchange a few words and part, but each regrets the parting, and, in later life, both judge and girl (now a harried young mother) muse sadly on what might have been. Illustrations of the time portray Maud as a country girl with long, loose hair under a straw hat and a simple summer dress. This poem contains the well-known quotation: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Lander’s bust of Maud is described as being under life size.

   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem Evangeline is the fictional saga of a young Acadian woman, separated from her lover during the British expulsions of Catholic Acadians from Canada. Evangeline searches faithfully for her beloved her whole life long and eventually is reunited with him as he lies on his deathbed. Lander’s “Evangeline” is an exhausted young girl, lying asleep by the bank of a stream surrounded by flowers.

   Elizabeth, and the Exiles of Siberia, a romantic 1805 novel by Madame Sophie Cottin, tells the semi-factual story of a loyal young woman who follows her father into exile in the Siberian wilderness and is eventually instrumental in freeing him. Elizabeth is described as wearing a cap, short skirt, and “Russian” boots. The book’s descriptions of Elizabeth’s peasant costume are vivid: a short red petticoat, reindeer trousers, squirrel-skin boots, and fur bonnet.

   Undine, a water nymph whose folktale has many variations, is a proto- Little Mermaid figure. Undine trades her immortality for mortal love, but will die if her human husband is unfaithful. The novelist and critic Baron Fouqué wrote a popularized version of this myth in 1811. Lander’s Undine is drooping as she arises from a fountain, surrounded by seashells which produce jets of spray. This piece most probably represents Undine as she is about to die, becoming, upon her betrayal, a pool of water. 34

   Elizabeth Ellet’s Roman source also mentions a “Ceres and Proserpine” and “Galatea” which illustrate well-known classical myths. In Lander’s work, a mourning Ceres waits for her daughter Proserpine to emerge from the underworld, where she is exiled for six months out of every year. Ellet describes Lander’s Ceres leaning sadly against a sheaf of wheat. Galatea, an idealized sculpture of a young woman, came to life because the goddess Venus rewarded the prayers of the (male) sculptor Pygmalion. No further description is given of the Galatea; there is a brief description of a “Sylph” gazing at a butterfly.35  Perhaps these sculptures were never brought to the final carving stage and only existed as clay maquettes. Curiously, one of Louisa’s small cameos, an unfinished shell carving about two inches long, also depicts a young woman, possibly with wings, raising a hand on which a butterfly has alighted. A small cup in the shape of a young woman’s head with long, flowing hair has handles in the shape of butterflies.36

   And then, there is the monumental, six-foot Captive Pioneer Mother and Daughters, which had many titles. It was—or possibly still is—a life-size group of three figures: a mother who stands in front of one cowering young daughter while another daughter lies at her feet in a faint. It was also referred to as “The White Mother Protecting Her Daughters from the Indians,” and “America Defending Her Children.” The June 25, 1861 Boston Evening Transcript describes this piece, as it arrived in Boston, “the original model,” which may perhaps have meant it was plaster.

   The Boston Evening Transcript serves to chronicle Lander’s exhibitions in the 1860s and expands on the scale and history of her sculptures. The history of the Virginia Dare sculpture, as Lander noted in her pamphlet, was fraught with mishap: the sculpture was lost at sea, found, resurrected, and shipped on to America:

   December 5, 1860. Miss Lander, the sculptor, is in town having lately returned from Rome, where she has executed some chefs d’oeuvre that have exacted the highest admiration abroad. We regret to learn that her marble life-sized statue of “Virginia Dare” expected shortly…has been lost at sea…Miss Lander’s last work, a large group, of “The White Mother Protecting Her Daughters from the Indians” is on its way to Boston…the group is three figures and stands six feet high…”

   February 26, 1861. Miss Lander’s statue of Virginia Dare, lost at sea in the shipment from Leghorn, and washed ashore at Palos, Spain, and been recovered and reshipped to this country…Ship C.A. Stamler, with some of Miss Lander’s statuary on board put into St. Thomas…”

   June 18, 1861. The barque Mary Annah, Capt. Grace, which arrived at this port on the 8th inst. From Leghorn, has on board five pieces of statuary by Miss Landor [sic]. One piece is large, and the subject is not given, but the whole will be on exhibition in this city in the fall. Her statuette of “Evangeline” will be exhibited at the stores of Mssrs. Williams & Everett in a few days (Williams and Everett Gallery).

   June 24, 1861. The Statuette of Undine….at Williams & Everett’s…the water spirit rises as a jet from the unsealed fountain…clinging drapery and drooping form…ordered by a lady from Beacon Street. A reduced copy from Evangeline is also to be seen…

   June 25, 1861. The original model of a group by the eminent sculptor, Miss Lander, was unpacked at the Athenaeum this afternoon. It represents American Defending her Children…will no doubt prove…to be one of the most popular of her numerous works…”

   August 13, 1863. Miss Lander presented to the East India Maritime Society of Salem the original “The Pioneer Mother and Daughters” (see June 25, 1861).


   In 1890, Louisa Lander lived in Salem, Massachusetts and in the town census her occupation is listed as “sculptress.”  It is not known if she produced sculpture in later life; or, if she did, whether it was ever reproduced in marble. In 1893, her sisters Elizabeth and Sarah having died, Louisa moved to Washington, DC, a few blocks from her brother Edward. A former federal judge, Edward lived near the Capitol building and was legal counsel for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Lander rented a home on 19th Street, near the White House. Lander’s portrait of him, in one existing photograph from the Stanford University Lander Archives, is dated 185(?)9 and shows a bearded man in middle age resembling known photographs.37  It is raw clay, before being cast or carved, if indeed it ever was. After Edward died, Louisa returned to Massachusetts and lived on Beacon Street, Boston, for only a few months before she, too passed away in November, 1923.

    No major works are recorded after about 1865. Perhaps the war derailed her, as did the deaths of Frederick and her father. Although she sold the life size Virginia Dare to a New York collector, he died before paying for the sculpture, and his heirs refused to honor the purchase. Louisa again took possession of her masterpiece. She tried to place it in the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, without success, and eventually willed the piece to the Historical Society of North Carolina. After further mishaps and being placed in storage, the sculpture is today a centerpiece of the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island. 38

   In the very early twentieth century, when she was in her 80s, Louisa donated four small, possibly juvenile, works to the East India Marine Society (now the Peabody Essex Museum): three carved cameos and a small ceramic cup in the shape of a woman’s head, with butterflies forming a handle.39  She had donated the lifesize “The Captive Pioneer Mother and Daughters” to the Society in 1863, and perhaps this last bequest of work was intended as a capstone to her career.

   Lander inherited wealth in her later years, as her will demonstrates. An undated photograph, probably taken outside her large summer home on Beach Bluff Avenue in Swampscott, Massachusetts (called “Marblehead” by Lander), shows the artist as an alert, elderly dowager, seated in an immaculate Landaulet, or low-slung, open, one-horse carriage, driven by a man in top hat and livery. This conveyance, a quaint old thing in the 1920s, speaks to a vanishing upper-class mode of life; the carriage allows the occupant an unobstructed view of the sea as she is slowly driven along, but it also allows passers-by a good view of the occupant: well-dressed, well-to-do, and comfortable with being on display.40

   Harriet Hosmer had also abandoned her sculpture career by the 1870s as commissions and interest in neoclassical sculpture drained away in favor of newer realism. Her creativity was unabated, however, and Hosmer remained busy designing inventions like a perpetual motion machine. She derided the new realism in art by calling new sculpture “bronze photographs.” 41

   Louisa Lander outlived her art, her immediate family, and the position her social prominence once offered, but not, it seems, her many friends. She remained keen and insightful into old age, writing biographical notes on her brother Frederick, and choosing a summer home close to Salem and Lynn streetcar lines that would have allowed her to conveniently visit and receive visitors.

   Sadly, we don’t have writings in Lander’s own voice, apart from an unsigned essay on Virginia Dare, and some short correspondence relating to her brother Frederick’s career. We can see little of her artwork. We have intriguing accounts written about her, and rave contemporary reviews. What we do know is that Lander created an oeuvre that celebrated women as independent, forthright protagonists. Aside from commissioned portraits, her chosen subjects were women from literature—including her own account of the Virginia Dare legend. She, almost alone in her era, conceived a radical pantheon of sculpted women whose poses, expressions, and symbolic attributes signified that they were independent people, not semi-erotic nudes designed for the male gaze.

   Though slandered and gossiped about, there is something about Lander that elides sentimentality. Her toughness, her refusal to answer to detractors in Rome, her willingness to “snap her fingers” at what she saw as unjust judgment, make her a more relevant personality to us n the 21st-century than many of her contemporaries. Her singular vision was the result of a singular personality: strong willed, educated. well-read, independent, highly intelligent: a talented professional pursuing a difficult craft among a circle of hostile peers.


   Few of Lander’s works are on public view: the Hawthorne bust is on the first floor of the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, Massachusetts. Virginia Dare is in the Elizabethan Gardens in Roanoke, North Carolina. One small cameo is in the Ropes Mansion in Salem, administered by the Peabody Essex Museum and open only in summer. The bust of Governor Gore is a private dining space in Memorial Hall, Harvard University. As Lander may become better known, so perhaps her work will begin to emerge from storage rooms, attics, and all the forgotten spaces where it silently sits, unseen.


Known Works (located works*)

Lander listed several completed works on the back page of the Virginia Dare pamphlet:

To-Day (bust)

Galatea (head)

Maude Muller (bust, under life size)

Evangeline (both 2/3 lifesize and 1/2 lifesize)

Undine (sold to “Mary Warren on Beacon Street”)

Virginia Dare (both statuette and life size)*

Bust of Hawthorne*

Bust of Governor Gore*

Bust of Minister Pickens and Lady (last documented in St. Petersburgh, Russia)

Portrait of Edward Lander (the artist’s father)

A 6-foot group of 3 figures variously titled “The Pioneer Captive Mother and Daughter,” “Pioneer Mother Defending Her Children,” “America Defending Her Children,” “White Mother Defending Her Daughters”

   In addition to Lander’s list, Elizabeth Ellet’s “letter from Rome” mentions several more pieces. Sometimes the scale is not given:

Portrait of Judge Edward Lander. (Author’s note: A photograph exists in the Lander archives at Stanford University. The photograph is of a clay model, so it is not known if this was ever carved or cast. This portrait is Louisa’s brother Edward, the Federal Judge)*

Elizabeth the Exile of Siberia

A Sylph

A bas-relief of Mountford

   In “A More Bracing Morning Atmosphere: Artistic Life in Salem” the author mentions a “religious piece for the Salem merchant John Bertram” although no specific subject matter is mentioned (p.161)

   In the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum: A P.P. Caproni & Brother cast of the Hawthorne bust. A group of small (possible) juvenalia: three cameos and a small ceramic cup in the shape of a woman’s head.

   Cosmopolitan Art Journal Vol. 5, No. 1 (March 1861), pp. 26-28 states: “In St. Petersburg she tarried long enough to do the bust of the American minister and his wife” (Pickens).

   Authors Note: Under President James Buchanan, Francis Wilkinson Pickens was Minister (ambassador) to Russia from 1858–1860, He married his third wife, Lucy Petway Holcombe, in 1856.


Lander’s Will

   Beneficiaries Listed in Lander’s Will dated Dec. 3, 1923, filed in Washington DC:

   Anna G. Endicott born about 1853, 22 Chestnut Street in Salem, held Lander’s funeral in November of 1923, bequest of “Telephone Stock” which would then pass to Louisa’s great-grand niece Margaret Lander Pierce.

   Nieces and nephews in California: Sanger Pullman, George Pullman, Annette McDonald of Menlo Park, CA each $100

   Grand nephews in Washington DC: Vinton Pierce of Washington (said “Chattels” including furniture), Josiah Pierce (Washington, furniture), and “all the residue of the estate” left her by her grandfather Nathaniel West. (presumably this is the remainder of the Oak Hill furniture)

   Margaret Lander Pierce, child of Vinton (Lander’s great-great niece), received the statue of “Evangeline” now in a box in the front room, and some furniture, and $5,000

   Mr. and Mrs. Charles E Kelsey (author’s note: b. about 1857 listed in 1902 census at 45 Beach Bluff Avenue Swampscott, occupation clerk), her Marblehead home and contents except for a picture and some furniture “for their kind care of me.”

9 women and 1 man as listed individually:

–Ada Stuart, Lafayette Louisiana $3,000

–Catherine Phelps, NY, $5,000

–Julia Brookhouse, Salem, $2,000

–Miss Emma Luscomb, Salem, $2,000

–Catherine Stone, Salem, $100

–Anna Fessenden, Salem, $100

–Mary D. Waters, Salem, $100

–Pickering George, Esquire, of Washington DC if he shall survive me, $500

–Dorothy Vaughan of Washington DC  $200

–Mrs. William P. Annis formerly of Washington now Katonah NY $200

   The Historical Society of Raleigh, NC—the statue of Virginia Dare

   Will signed on July 1, 1922 as “Miss Louisa Lander”

Witnessed by: Ellen Maria Gannon, Barbara Thornton, Marie A. Seddicum

Lander and Siblings

–Elizabeth Rebecca Lander, b. about 1814   d. 4 Aug 1890 • Hale, Carroll, Missouri, United States

–Edward Lander born 11 Aug 1816 • Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States

Residence in 1880: 222 New Jersey Avenue Washington DC

d. 2 Feb 1907 • Washington, District of Columbia, United States

–Arthur Lander born abt 1818 • Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, United States (1818-?)

–Charles Henry West Lander (Feb. 1818-1877, died in San Francisco in 1877)

–Sarah West Lander (1819-1872) Born Nov. 27, 1819 Salem, MA

–Frederick William West Lander (General) 17 December 1821 – died of wounds 1862

–Maria Louisa Lander (1 Sept. 1826–November 14, 1923)

–Martha D Lander (1833-1873)

Lander’s Family and Places of Residence:

Born on Broad Street, Salem

Resided at Oak Hill (now Danvers), age 6 until her mother’s death in 1849 when LL was 23

After 1849: 5 Summer Street, Salem, the brick home built by her grandfather Nathaniel West

Summer Residence (built c. 1900): 45 Beach Bluff Road, Swampscott (called by LL Marblehead) MA

Washington, DC home: 1608 19th Street, a rented residence, two maids, listed in 1920  census

Last home: 821 Beacon Street, Boston (presumed demolished for Massachusetts Turnpike construction).

Death in Boston, MA November 1923 as Maria L. Lander age 98

Funeral at the home of Miss Anna Endicott, 22 Chestnut Street, Salem MA

Buried in Salem, Massachusetts

Detailed Places of Residence (included are Lander’s father and siblings)

Listed in Salem City Directory: 1880, 1882, 1884, 1886, 1893

Listed in Washington, DC city directory: 1893, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910

1850 Federal Census:

5 Summer Street in Salem, MA:

Edward Lander            Age 60

Arthur Lander Age 32

Sarah Lander               Age 26

Frederic Lander           Age 24

Louisa Lander Age 22

Martha Lander            Age 17

Bridget Mahoney age 35

1855 Federal Census:

5 Summer Street in Salem, MA:

Edward Lander            Age 65

Arthur Lander Age 38

Sarah Lander               Age 28

Louisa Lander Age 24  Birth year listed as 1831

Martha Lander            Age 21

Mary Landers (sic)     Age 25

Anna Green age 14

In 1862 Father Edward dies, leaving Louisa and her sisters the family property

1865 Federal Census:

5 Summer Street in Salem, MA:

Elizabeth R. Lander    Age 50

Sarah Lander               Age 45

Louisa Lander Age 36

Mary Harvey  Age 28

1870 Federal Census:

5 Summer Street in Salem, MA:

Elizabeth R. Lander    Age 50

Sarah W. Lander          Age 49

Louisa Lander Age 42  Occupation listed as “sculptress”

1880 Federal Census:

5 Summer Street in Salem, MA:

Elizabeth R. Lander    Age 65

Louisa Lander Age 51  Occupation listed as “sculpter” [sic] Birth year listed as 1829

*Note: death of sister Elizabeth in 1890, Sarah died in 1872

1920 Census

Residence in Washington, DC “Single head of household”

1608 19th Street, R (for Rented home)

Two Maids: Barbara Thornton and Annie Golden, both white and single

Full Text of Frederick Lander’s Virginia Dare Poem:

            Virginia Dare

            She stands before us like a thing of dreams;

            The glory of her thought is on her face;

            And brokenly the tender sunlight streams

            O’er the rapt wonder of her virgin grace:

            Lo! the clasped hand; the faint and shadowy trace

            Of bashful thought through all her woodland guise;

            Pure, starborn dewdrop, that some floweret’s case

            Holds up to heaven beneath the morning’s eyes,

            That, trembling first, grows calm in softened, sweet surprise.

                  Hist! ‘twas the carol of some wakeful bird,

            Or Nature’s voices wooing in the low

            Sweet tone of flowers her loitering foot has stirred;

            Or winds are wailing o’er the buds that glow

            In chosen glades, and fear lest she go;

            Or from the brook her Indian lover quaffed,

            (More chill to him that Sewell’s mountain snow

            since beauty passed) the rival zephyrs waft

            O’er echoing waves his sighs that young Virginia laughed.

                  No, ‘tis the magic of a holier thought;

            Fixed in new wonder by fond memories given,

            Home, and the song her English mother taught,

            Float with the sound, and lift those eyes to heaven;

            So the fair Eve, on earth’s blessed day of seven,

            Stood forth betwixt young Adam and the morn,

            Ere mortal touch, or taint of earthly leaven,

            Or that sad sense from evil knowledge born,

            Had frayed the enraptured soul that thrilled her to adorn.

                  Ye arbiters of calling and true fame,

            Translators of divinities ye blend

            From faith and hope in Freedom’s household name;

            Ye judges stern, whom sophistries offend,

            Here view the grace that woman’s hand can lend

            To all ye love; who, where eternal Rome

            Bids artist souls to loftier themes ascend,

            Could mould the tale of dear Virginia’s home,

            And love her native land beneath a foreign dome.

Current Locations of Known Works:

In Peabody Essex Museum:

Three cameos and one white china cup in the shape of a head (all donated by LL in the early 20th century)


Plaster cast of Hawthorne bust (from PP Caproni & Bro. 1911 catalog)  see personal email citation

Collection of Harvard University (Memorial Hall dining hall):

Bust of Governor Christopher Gore—life-size, marble

Collection of the Concord Free Public Library:

Marble bust of Hawthorne signed L.L. Romae 1858 (see author photographs)

Collection of PP Caproni & Brother (now owned by The Giust Gallery at Skylight Studios, Woburn, MA),  Mold for plaster reproductions of the Hawthorne bust   (presumably taken from the marble) (1911)

Also see email message from The Giust Gallery to author, July 9 2018.

Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke NC

Virginia Dare, lifesize, marble    “Virginia Dare Statue in the Elizabethan Gardens”


    1   Thomas William Herringshaw,  Herringshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century (Chicago, IL, USA: American Publishers Association, 1902), 568.

    2  Doug Stewart, “Salem Sets Sail,” Smithsonian Magazine June 2004,  accessed April 20, 2019

    3  Elizabeth Fries Ellet, Women Artists in all Ages and Countries (New York : Harper & Brothers, 1859), 328.

    4  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Oak Hill Rooms in American Period Rooms accessed April 22, 2019

Musem of Fine Arts, Boston: Derby Chest on Chest by Samuel McIntire,  accessed April 22, 2019

    5  Dean Lahkinen, Samuel McIntire: Carving an American Style (Salem, Mass: Peabody Essex Museum, 2007), 244-245.

    6  Cosmopolitan Art Journal Vol. 5, No. 1 (New York: March, 1861), 26-28.

    7 Catalog of the Twenty-Eighth Exhibition of Paintings and Statuary at the Athenaeum Gallery 1855, (Boston: Eastburn’s Press, 1855), 15.

    8  Ellet, Women Artists, 328-329.

    9  Thayer Tolles, “American Neoclassical Sculptors Abroad,” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000) Accessed April 22, 2019

    10  Ellet, Women Artists, 328-329.

    11 Sylvia E. Crane, White Silence: Greenough, Powers, and Crawford, Sculptors in Nineteenth Century Italy (Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami Press, 1972) 365.

    12  ibid.

    13  New Perspective, New Discoveries: A New Look at Crawford’s Progress of Civilization, Architects of the Capitol, Capitol Restoration Project. Accessed April 22, 2019

    14  Giovanni Verri, Roman Sculpture and Color: The “Treu Head”

Accessed April 22, 2019

    15 “The Dusseldorf Gallery,”  New York Times, March 13, 1860, 2.

    16  John Idol, and Sterling Eisiminer, “Hawthorne Sits for a Bust by Maria Louisa Lander,” Essex Institute Historical Collections (vol. 114, October 1978): 207-212.

    17 ibid.

    18 ibid.

    19 Ellet, Women Artists, 331-332.

    20  Herbert, T. Walter, Dearest Beloved: The Hawthornes and the Making of the Middle-Class Family  (Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford: The Regents of the University of California, University of California Press, 1993) 228-229.

    21  Thomas Woodson, James A. Rubino, L. Neal Smith, and Norman Holmes Pearson, eds.  Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Letters, 1857-1864, vol. 28. The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1987) 158-59.

    22  Frederic A. Sharf, “A More Bracing Morning Atmosphere: Artistic Life in Salem 1850-1859,” Essex Institute Historical Collections (vol. 95, 1959): 149-164.

    23  “Louisa Lander,”  Salem Register June 24, 1858 np

    24 Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions(New York : G K Hall, 1990) 59-60.

    25 ibid.

    26 ibid.

    27 ibid., p. 41

    28 ibid.

    29  Cornelia Carr, ed. Harriet Hosmer: Letters and Memories  (London: John Lane the Bodley Head 1913) 194-195.

    30  Louisa Lander, “The National Statue, Virginia Dare,” Archives of The Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston: Box 1863.  pamphlet, n.d. n.p. (4pp)

    31  Frederick West Lander, “Virginia Dare” in Stanford University Archives Special Collections M102: Box 1, Folder 1, Item 3. Accessed digitally via personal email.

    32 Boston Evening Transcript March 16, 1865, 2.

    33 Cosmopolitan Art Journal Vol. 5, No. 1 (New York: March, 1861), 26-28.

    34  Ellet, Women Artists, 331-332.

    35 ibid.

    36  Kathryn White, personal email from Peabody Essex Museum Collections Department, June 13, 2018

    37  Stanford University Archives Special Collections: M102 Lander Family Papers, Box 1 Folder 3, item 28  photograph of Judge Lander. Accessed digitally via personal email.

    38 Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, 62.

    39  Kathryn White, personal email from Peabody Essex Museum Collections Department, June 13, 2018.

    40  Peabody Essex Museum Library and Archives at the Phillips Library, Rowley, Massachusetts: Fam. Mss. 540, Lander Family Papers, 1903-1904 .  

    41  Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, 44.

Lander Plates


Lander’s portrait of her brother, Judge Edward Lander. Courtesy Stanford University Archives, Lander Family Papers.

Statue of “America” on the cornice of the Derby Chest-on-Chest, workshop of Samuel McIntire, courtesy Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

“America” marble, over life size. From the workshop of Thomas Crawford, c. 1856. Courtesy Architects of the Capitol Project.

Carte de visite image of Lander’s life size marble statue, “Virginia Dare,” or “The National Statue.” Courtesy Stanford University Archives, Lander Family Papers.

Lander’s life size portrait in marble of Nathaniel Hawthorne, signed “L.L. Romae. 1858.” Courtesy Concord, Mass. Free Public Library.
Louisa Lander in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Undated. Courtesy Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Numbers 5-7 Salem Street, Salem Massachusetts. The row of brick townhouses is now the Salem Inn. Lander’s immediate family moved to the townhouse on the right immediately after her mother’s death, and Lander lived here most of her life.

Cup, Mid 19th-early 20th century, by Louisa Lander. Gift of Louisa Lander to Peabody Essex Museum, 1919. Ceramic, 2 7/8 x 5 x 2 7/8 in. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

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