William Wetmore Story

For other people with the same name, see William Story (disambiguation).

William Wetmore Story, circa 1865–1880

William Wetmore Story (February 12, 1819 – October 7, 1895) was an American sculptor, art critic, poet, and editor.


1 Life and career

1.1 Family

2 Selected works
3 Selected writings
4 Images
5 References
6 Sources
7 External links

Life and career[edit]

Medea, 1865, this version 1868 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

William Wetmore Story was the son of jurist Joseph Story and Sarah Waldo (Wetmore) Story. He graduated at Harvard College in 1838 and at the Harvard Law School in 1840, continued his law studies under his father, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar, and prepared two legal treatises of value — Treatise on the Law of Contracts not under Seal (2 vols., 1844) and Treatise on the Law of Sales of Personal Property (1847).[1]
Abandoning the law, he devoted himself to sculpture, and after 1850 lived in Rome, whither he had first gone in 1848, and where he was intimate with the Brownings and with Walter Savage Landor. In 1856, he received a commission for a bust of his late father, which resides in the Memorial Hall/Lowell Hall. Story’s apartment, in Palazzo Barberini, became a central location for Americans in Rome. During the American Civil War his letters to the Daily News in December 1861 (afterwards published as a pamphlet, “The American Question,” i.e. of neutrality), and his articles in Blackwood’s, had considerable influence on English opinion.[1]
One of his most famous works, Cleopatra, (1858) was described and admired in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s romance, The Marble Faun,[1] and is on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Another work, the Angel of Grief, has been replicated near the Stanford Mausoleum at Stanford University. Among his other life-size statues he completed were those of Saul; Sapho: Electra; Semiramide; Delilah; Judith; Medea; Jerusalem Desolate; Sardanapolis; Solomon, Orestes; Canidia, and Shakespeare. His Sibyl and Cleopatra were exhibited at the 1863 Universal Exposition in London.[2]
Story submitted a design for the Washington Monument, then under construction. Although the Washington National Monument Society concluded that his design seemed “vastly superior in artistic taste and beauty” to the obelisk already under construction, the obelisk continued to be built, and is what we see today as the monument. In addition, Story sculpted a bronze statue o