women in the arts womens rights

Adelaide Johnson

This weeks Illustrated Women in History was submitted by Ellen Schaeffer of www.persistentsisters.com

Adelaide Johnson, born Sarah Adeline Johnson on September 26, 1859 in rural Illinois, is best known for her sculptures of prominent American suffragettes. In her teens, she studied at the St. Louis School for Design. With the help of an insurance settlement she was awarded after an accident in Chicago, she traveled to Italy, where she studied painting and sculpture for 11 years. After her return to the United States, she completed a bust of Susan B. Anthony, a personal hero. At Anthony’s suggestion, she also completed the busts of Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These sculptures were displayed in the Women’s Building of the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. They also served as bridesmaids for her marriage to Alexander Frederick Jenkins in 1896! Alva Belmont of the National Women’s Party secured the funding and commissioned the sculpture for which Johnson is most known–Memorial to the Pioneers of the Suffrage Movement. The sculpture was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on February 15, 1921, the 101st birthday of Susan B. Anthony. She intentionally left the sculpture unfinished, a comment on the unfinished business of women’s fight for equality. The sculpture was continuously displayed in Crypt of the Capitol until 1997, when it was moved back to a more prominent location, again in the Rotunda.

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