Erastus Dow Palmer American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 736

Palmer depicted the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho "as she stands contemplating vacancy, with her hair and drapery moved by the sighing winds of Lesbos, and a heart overflowing with grief from neglected love." Although it may be difficult today to identify this celebrated figure, contemporary viewers familiar with classical literature would have recognized her. The Albany-based Palmer presented Sappho at an 1856 solo exhibition in New York, following the practice of both local and expatriate artists marketing major works to prospective clients. He received at least twelve orders for the sculpture in plaster and marble, including this version carved from Italian marble.

Sappho, Erastus Dow Palmer (American, Pompey, New York 1817–1904 Albany, New York), Marble, American

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