Artists & Designers

Anne Whitney (1821-1915)

One of the most successful women artists working in the United States during the 19th century, Anne Whitney was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, to a wealthy, liberal family. She studied anatomy at a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, and then took a drawing class at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. She began her career as a poet, but by 1860 she turned her attention toward sculpting. Sculptor William Rimmer gave her private lessons from 1862 to 1864. Her early style was neoclassical, but her work became more realistic after she went to Europe. From 1867 to 1871, Whitney lived in Rome with other American expatriate women sculptors including Harriet Hosmer. She then returned to Boston, establishing a studio of her own. She was a politically driven artist whose subjects addressed abolition, women’s rights, social justice, and poverty. Several public commissions and notable exhibitions cemented her place in the art world, and she had a significant influence on following generations of women artists working in the Boston area. Whitney died in 1915 at the age of 93.

Adapted from

Sara Woodbury, DMA unpublished material, 2011.

Fun Facts

  • While training at William Rimmer's studio, Anne Whitney became one of few American women artists at the time who had the opportunity to work from nude male models.

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