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The Wooing of Hiawatha
24" x 15" x 15"
White marble
1866

Mary Edmonia Lewis is considered the first African American to gain an international reputation as a sculptor. After attending Oberlin College, Lewis trained with the sculptor Edward Brackett in Boston in mid-1800s. Many of her earlier marble sculptures depicted noted abolitionists and Civil War heroes. The Wooing of Hiawatha depicts another popular subject of the day: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s love poem The Song of Hiawatha. In this scene, Hiawatha’s beloved Minnehaha and her father, known as the Old Arrow Maker, are seated together with a deer, a gift from Hiawatha, at their feet. The story of Hiawatha held special significance to Lewis since she also claimed Native American ancestry.