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The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney

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The Art of the Woman explores the life of German-born Elisabet Ney, a flamboyant sculptor who transfixed the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and left the court of the half-mad Ludwig of Bavaria to put down new roots in Texas. Born in 1833, Ney gained notoriety in Europe by sculpting the busts of such figures as Ludwig II, Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, and Bismarck. In 1871 she The Art of the Woman explores the life of German-born Elisabet Ney, a flamboyant sculptor who transfixed the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and left the court of the half-mad Ludwig of Bavaria to put down new roots in Texas. Born in 1833, Ney gained notoriety in Europe by sculpting the busts of such figures as Ludwig II, Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, and Bismarck. In 1871 she abruptly emigrated to America and became something of a recluse until resuming her sculpting career two decades later. In Texas, she was known for stormy relationships with officials, patrons, and women’s organizations. Her works included sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin and are exhibited in the state and US capitols as well as the Smithsonian.  Emily Fourmy Cutrer’s biography of Ney makes extensive use of primary sources and was the first to appraise both Ney’s legend and individual works of art. Cutrer argues that Ney was an accomplished sculptor coming out of a neglected German neoclassical tradition and that, whatever her failures and eccentricities, she was an important catalyst to cultural activity in Texas.


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The Art of the Woman explores the life of German-born Elisabet Ney, a flamboyant sculptor who transfixed the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and left the court of the half-mad Ludwig of Bavaria to put down new roots in Texas. Born in 1833, Ney gained notoriety in Europe by sculpting the busts of such figures as Ludwig II, Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, and Bismarck. In 1871 she The Art of the Woman explores the life of German-born Elisabet Ney, a flamboyant sculptor who transfixed the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and left the court of the half-mad Ludwig of Bavaria to put down new roots in Texas. Born in 1833, Ney gained notoriety in Europe by sculpting the busts of such figures as Ludwig II, Schopenhauer, Garibaldi, and Bismarck. In 1871 she abruptly emigrated to America and became something of a recluse until resuming her sculpting career two decades later. In Texas, she was known for stormy relationships with officials, patrons, and women’s organizations. Her works included sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin and are exhibited in the state and US capitols as well as the Smithsonian.  Emily Fourmy Cutrer’s biography of Ney makes extensive use of primary sources and was the first to appraise both Ney’s legend and individual works of art. Cutrer argues that Ney was an accomplished sculptor coming out of a neglected German neoclassical tradition and that, whatever her failures and eccentricities, she was an important catalyst to cultural activity in Texas.

15 review for The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Warner

    Ney's studio and residence, Formosa, is owned by the City of Austin and open to the public. When it was built, the "miniature Greek temple" must have been surrounded by lush countryside, but now it's smack in the middle of an old, established Austin neighborhood called Hyde Park. Inside Formosa, Ney's sculptural depictions of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and others crowd the downstairs studio. Although the space is a museum of sorts, it doesn't have the atmosphere or the organization of a mus Ney's studio and residence, Formosa, is owned by the City of Austin and open to the public. When it was built, the "miniature Greek temple" must have been surrounded by lush countryside, but now it's smack in the middle of an old, established Austin neighborhood called Hyde Park. Inside Formosa, Ney's sculptural depictions of Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, and others crowd the downstairs studio. Although the space is a museum of sorts, it doesn't have the atmosphere or the organization of a museum. Instead, it feels otherworldly, as though one has stumbled into a party of elites where all the minglers have mysteriously turned to stone. My husband and I stopped in one afternoon and were so surprised and moved by Formosa and its contents that I knew I had to read at least one book about the sculptor's life. The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney is a balanced and well-researched biography of a remarkable woman. The book began as a dissertation, and it has the somber tone of a scholarly tome, but it's subject is so remarkable that she steps forth, whole-cloth. Elizabeth Ney was a pioneer in several senses of the word. The word "indomitable" doesn't come to mind often, but it's an apt descriptor for Ney.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Even though the dense writing makes for slow reading, this is a very interesting look at a woman artist in Germany and Texas in the late 1800s. The many references to people and places around Austin are fun ideas to follow up on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    This was a well-written, well-researched biography of Elisabet Ney.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Porter

  5. 5 out of 5

    Texas A&M University Press

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jac

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ziru

  8. 4 out of 5

    Derek

  9. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Landmann

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dakri

  11. 4 out of 5

    Teri Robus

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rob Same

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Brownlee

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