Bessie Potter Vonnoh — 2008

Sculptor of Women

By Julie Aronson

Essay by Janis Conner

“This much-anticipated project promises to introduce a new generation to Vonnoh’s significant place in the history of American sculpture.”

Fine Art Connoisseur

“Aronson’s study of (Bessie Potter Vonnoh) is admirable and her treatment is thoroughly unfussy. Those of us who strive to break the canonical mold with our scholarship would be wise to look to both the author and the sculptor for quiet inspiration.”

Ohioana Quarterly

“This indispensable resource on the American artist Bessie Potter Vonnoh (1872-1955) served as the catalogue for a traveling retrospective exhibition of her sculpture. Vonnoh’s work—although well-received in her day—has been underrepresented in exhibitions and scholarly literature.”

Woman’s Art Journal

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In the Gilded Age, when most sculptors aspired to produce monu­ments, Bessie Potter Vonnoh (1872–1955) made significant contributions to small bronze sculpture and garden statuary designed for the embellishment of the home. Her work commanded admiration for her fluid and suggestive modeling, graceful lines, and sculptural form. In 1904 Bessie Potter Vonnoh won the gold medal for sculpture at the St. Louis World’s Fair for bronzes of contemporary American women and children that delighted all who saw them.

Although Vonnoh’s work is represented today in museums throughout the United States, Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women provides for the first time an intimate and engaging encounter with one of the most widely respected sculptors of her day.

Julie Aronson explores how, by concentrating on sculpture for domestic settings that expertly combined naturalism with elegance, Vonnoh negotiated a male-dominated field to create a pathway to professional success and made high-quality sculpture accessible to a wider audience.

In an essay that examines Vonnoh’s relationship with her foundries and scrutinizes bronze castings, Janis Conner demystifies baffling issues of authenticity and quality in turn-of-the-century bronzes.

This copiously illustrated book, indispensable for all sculpture enthusiasts, accompanies the first exhibition since 1930 dedicated to the art of Bessie Potter Vonnoh.


Picture of Julie Aronson

Julie Aronson is Curator of American Painting and Sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum. She is co-curator of the exhibition Perfect Likeness: European and American Portrait Miniatures at the Cincinnati Art Museum and coauthor of its accompanying publication. She was also one of the curatorial team that created the permanent collection display The Cincinnati Wing: The Story of Art in the Queen City and the editor of its companion volume.

Cover of 'Bessie Potter Vonnoh'

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