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Emma Stebbins
(September 1, 1815 - October 25, 1882) U.S.A.

Emma Stebbins

Sculptor

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Born and raised in a wealthy New York family, Stebbins was encouraged by her family in her pursuit of art from an early age. In 1857, sponsored by her brother Col. Henry G. Stebbins, head of the New York Stock Exchange, she moved to Rome where she moved in with sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who had established herself there in 1852. She studied under John Gibson an English neoclassicist working there at that time. In Rome she fell in love with actress Charlotte Saunders Cushman, and quickly became involved in the bohemian and feminist lesbian lifestyle, which was more tolerated there than it would have been back in New York.

Cushman was confidant, strong, and charismatic, and recently recovering from a break up following a ten-year relationship with the actress Matilda Hays. Cushman and Stebbins began travelling together, immediately taking a trip to Naples. Upon their return, they began spending time in a circle that included African American/Native American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, many celebrities, and fellow lesbians that included Harriet Hosmer. In this environment, the women flourished without regard for showing outward affection for one another.

One of Stebbins' early commissions was a portrait bust of Cushman between 1859-1860. In 1869, Cushman was treated for breast cancer. Stebbins devoted all her time during that ordeal to nursing her lover, ignoring her work during the next two years. The following year, the couple returned to the United States. Cushman died of pneomonia in 1876 at the age of 59. Following the death of Cushman, Stebbins never produced another sculpture. She released the correspondence, Charlotte Cushman: Her Letters and Memories of Her Life in 1878.

Stebbins died in New York at the age of 67. Stebbins is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery, in Brooklyn, New York.

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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