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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor

 



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Thomas Crawford

CRAWFORD, Thomas, sculptor, born in New York City, 29 March 1814; died in London, 16 October 1857. He was of Irish parentage. Of his early years we only know that he was at school with Page, the artist, and that his proficiency in his studies was hindered by the exuberance of his fancy, which took form in drawings and carvings. His love of art led him, at the age of nineteen, to enter the studios of Frazer and Launitz, artists and artificers in marble, well known to the New York of that day. In 1834 he went abroad for the promotion of artistic studies, and took up his residence in Rome for life, as it proved. The celebrated sculptor, Thorwaldsen, became his master and friend. Under this fortunate guidance he devoted himself to the study both of the antique and of living models. His first ideal work was a group of "Orpheus and Cerberus," executed in 1839, and purchased, some years later, for the Boston athenaeum. This was followed by a succession of groups, single figures, and bas-reliefs, whose rapid production bore witness to the fertility as well as the versatility of his genius. Among these are "Adam and Eve" and a bust of Josiah Quincy, now in the Boston athenaeum; "Hebe and Ganymede," presented to the Boston art museum by Mr. C. C. Perkins, and a bronze statue of Beethoven, presented by the same gentleman to the Boston music hall;" Babes in the Wood," in the Lenox library; "Mercury and Psyche "; "Flora," now in the gallery of the late Mrs. A. T. Stewart; an Indian girl; "Dancing Jenny," modeled from his own daughter; and a statue of James Otis, which adorns the chapel at Mount Auburn, Cambridge.

In 1849, while on a visit to this country, he received from the state of Virginia an order for a monument to be erected in Richmond. He immediately returned to Rome and began the work, of which the design was a star of five rays, each one of these bearing a statue of some historic Virginian, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson among the number. The work is surmounted by a plinth, on which stands an equestrian statue of Washington. These statues, modeled in Rome, were cast at the celebrated Munich foundry, where, as elsewhere, their merit was much appreciated. Mr. Crawford's most important works after these were ordered by the national government for the capitol at Washington. First among these was a marble pediment, bearing life-size figures symbolical of the progress of American civilization; next in order came a bronze figure of Liberty, which surmounts the dome; and last of these, and of his life-work, was a bronze dove on which are modeled various scenes in the public life of Washington. Prominent among Mr. Crawford's works was also his statue of an Indian chief, much admired by the English sculptor Gibson, who proposed that a bronze copy of it should be retained in Rome as a lasting monument. Mr. Crawford's health failed under the pressure of the great public works here enumerated. In 1856 he was suddenly afflicted with blindness caused by a cancerous affection. He was above middle height, well formed and athletic, with a clear eye, ruddy complexion, and energetic temperament. In polities he was a liberal, in religion a Protestant, in character generous and kindly, and adverse to discords, professional or sociah

--His son, Francis Marion Crawford, author, born in Bagni di Lucca, Italy, 2 August 1854, has lived chiefly abroad. He has published novels, including "Mr. Isaacs" (New York, 1882); "Doctor Claudius" (1883); "A Roman Singer" (1884); "To Leeward" (1884); "An American Politician" (1885); "Zoroaster" (1885); " Tale of a Lonely Parish" (1886); and "Saracinesca" (1886).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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