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Fall 2021 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

Horatio Greenough
The First American Sculptor

Nathalia Wright

382 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Cloth 1963 | ISBN 9781512809244 | $79.95s | Outside the Americas £64.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512809251 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £64.00
An Anniversary Collection volume
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This is the first full-length biography of Horatio Greenough. Aside from a short fifty page account published in 1853, no one up to now has attempted to write the complete story of his life.

Greenough, who lived from 1805 to 1852, was the first American to devote himself from the outset of his career to the profession of sculpture and the first to set forth at any length the concept of functionalism in architecture. He was generally forgotten after his death, chiefly because the heroic, classical tradition in sculpture to which he was committed gave place to the realistic depiction of subjects in the dress of their times. On the other hand, his architectural theory, for which he was far in advance of his time, made little impression on his contemporaries. In recent years he has been hailed as a forerunner of the architectural functionalists while his sculpture has been disparaged. Actually, his achievement in both these areas is considerable and highly significant in the history of American culture.

In this book Greenough's life is examined with a broad, historical, American-culture point of view rather than the specialized view of the art critic. Especially interesting and informative are the discussions of his virtual founding of the American colony in Florence; his association with such notable contemporaries as James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel F. B. Morse and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and his dealings with the United States government in the execution of two major works. One was the controversial "Washington," intended for the rotund. of the Capitol but, widely objected to because the figure was half-nude, now in the Smithsonian Institution; the other was "The Rescue," consisting of a pioneer restraining an Indian from killing a pioneer woman and child, a group which stood on the east front of the Capitol until its recent remodeling.

This book contains liberal quotations from previously unpublished letters of Greenough and accounts of nineteenth-century American travelers in Italy. In addition, there is a catalogue of the artist's sculpture and fifty plates (with seventy-eight individual illustrations), including photographs or drawings of most of his sculptures and photographs of representative specimens of his drawings, the majority of which are being published for the first time.

Nathalia Wright was Professor of English at the University of Tennessee. She is the author of The Inner Room, Melville's Use of the Bible, and American Novelists in Italy: The Discoverers, Allston to James, the last also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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