Clasped Hands of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830–1908)
1853, cast after 1853
3 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 4 1/4 in. (8.3 x 21 x 10.8 cm)
Purchase, Mrs. Frederick A. Stoughton Gift, 1986
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 740
One of America's first professional female sculptors, Harriet Hosmer met Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Rome in 1853. The Brownings, both well-known English poets, had eloped to Italy seven years earlier. Shortly after meeting the couple, Hosmer approached them about modeling their hands. Mrs. Browning consented to the sculptor's idea on the condition that Hosmer do the casting herself. Hosmer later explained that these hands were left exactly as they came from the mold because she wanted to preserve the textural quality of the work. The identity of each clasped hand is discernible by the differences in size as well as the treatment of the cuff at each wrist.
Signature: [on end of his wrist]: HANDS - OF - ROBERT / AND / Elizabeth Barrett Browning / cast By / Harriet Hosmer / Rome 1853