"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Vinnie Ream

This 1914 low relief portrait of sculptor Vinnie Ream (Lavinia Ream Hoxie) by George Julian Zolnay, marks Vinnie Ream Hoxie’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

The inscription, a paraphrase of a line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem Insufficiency, reads:
Words That Would Praise Thee
Are Impotent

G. J. Zolnay

Vinnie Ream’s plaque adorns the front of an elaborate monument to her in Arlington National Cemetery.  Her husband Richard L. Hoxie placed the monument there in 1914. Richard was buried here in 1930 and his second wife Ruth N. Hoxie was added in 1959.

Richard L. Hoxie
Brigadier General U.S. Army

Beloved Wife
Ruth N. Hoxie

The monument is surmounted by a bronze cast of Vinnie Ream's sculpture of Sappho.

Richard Hoxie gave the original marble statue to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and had this bronze copy cast for Vinnie's Grave.

When Lavina Ellen Ream was born in 1847 in Madison Wisconsin, she was not the first white child born in Madison, as the Dearborn Independent, Feb. 21, 1920, had it. But she was born in the Peck Cabin, the house where the first white child in Madison, Wisconsiana Victoria Peck, was born in 1837. See: O.D. Brandenburg, The First White Child in Madison. Wisconsiana's mother Rosaline Peck said “I think my daughter and Miss Vinnie were the only children born there.”

Sculptor Vinnie Ream was famous for being young, beautiful and talented. She became the first woman to win a federal art commission when she used her friendship with General Rollins to convince Lincoln to sit for her when she was 17 years old. Just as she was finishing the bust, Lincoln was assassinated. The bust, shown below, allowed her to win the heated competition for a life sized statue of Lincoln that stands in the Capitol.

George Caleb Bingham painted the same scene in 1876.

Vinnie Ream's poem about Lincoln appeared in a Minneapolis newspaper in 1902.

Francis Ellington Leupp tells how Vinnie Ream prevented the senate conviction of Andrew Johnson on his impeachment in 1868 by diverting Daniel Sickles from discouraging Senator Edmund Gibson Ross of Kansas from changing his vote on conviction. The accusation of interference nearly got Miss Ream, and her statue, kicked out of the Capitol.  See Melissa Dakakis, Sculpting Lincoln.

The Phrenological Society published this image of Vinnie Ream in a Sept. 1869 article describing Ms. Ream from a phrenological point of view.

Portrait of Vinnie Ream, the Young Sculptor

Among other things the article remarks that “Her body is lithe, her brain large, and her mind intensely active.”

The town of Vinita Oklahoma was named for her in 1871, and in the same year GPA Healy painted this portrait of her in Rome. 

The Library of Congress has this c. 1870 photo of Vinnie Ream Hoxie in the same Roman peasant outfit and nearly the same pose:

In 1878 Vinnie Ream was commissioned to sculpt the statue of Admiral Farragut which stands in Farragut Square in Washington, DC.

 Vinnie Ream Sculptor

Also 1878, She married Richard L. Hoxie, who was then a Lieutenant in the Corp of Engineers.

Here she's shown in her wedding dress with Admiral Farragut looking on from a painted backdrop.

The house, seen over Vinnie Ream Hoxie's left shoulder, looks a lot like the house the Hoxie's moved into on Farragut square at 1632 K street.

1632 K Street (LOC)

Mrs. Hoxie  gave up sculpture at the behest of her husband. Here we see her playing the harp with her son, Richard Ream Hoxie, at her feet.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote a poetic Tribute to Vinnie Ream in 1905.

The N.Y. Tribune published the photo below captioned "Vinnie Ream Hoxie of Today" on Feb. 11, 1912, two years before her death in 1914.

Late in life, Vinnie Ream Hoxie returned to Sculpting with permission of her husband. She received a commission for a bronze sculpture of Iowa Senator Samuel Kirkwood which was given by Iowa to National Statuary Hall in 1913. She took on a commission for a statue of Sequoya in 1912 but died before its completion. It was finished by George Julian Zolnay and given to Statuary Hall by the state of Oklahoma in 1917. 

Vinnie Ream died of uremia in the K street house on November 20, 1914. General Hoxie survived until 1930 and Ruth Hoxie lived until 1959.

In 1950, Vinnie Ream Hoxie appeared in a Wonder Woman Comic as one of the Wonder Women of History. 

Check Here for more on Vinnie Ream Hoxie.

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