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William Henry Rinehart


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Sculptor. Known primarily for ideal figures representing classical themes, he occasionally treated other subjects and also produced many portraits. Grace, dignity, and formal simplicity infuse his calm approach to the ideals of neoclassicism. The unaffected standing male and female figures of Leander (Newark [New Jersey] Museum, 1859) and Clytie (Metropolitan Museum, 1872; modeled 1869–70) number among the particularly classical in spirit. Latona and Her Children, Apollo and Diana (Metropolitan Museum, 1874; modeled 1870), a complex pyramidal group and Rinehart's last major classical endeavor, recapitulates his strengths, endowing the literary source with monumentality and meditative reserve. Appropriately, Rinehart's portraits display a greater naturalism, although he sometimes swathed the shoulders of his busts in generalizing togalike garments. Born on a Maryland farm near Union Bridge, Rinehart learned to handle his medium as a stonecutter. He continued to follow this trade after moving about thirty miles to Baltimore around 1844. Mostly self-taught as an artist, he attended evening classes at the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts (now Maryland Institute College of Art) about 1850 and soon began to establish a local reputation as a sculptor. In 1855 he departed for Italy. During two years in Florence, he mastered the prevailing neoclassical style. After subsequently working in Baltimore for about a year, he sailed again in 1858 for Europe. At this time he settled in Rome, where he remained except for two visits to the United States. Despite declining enthusiasm for neoclassical sculpture by the time he reached his maturity as an artist, Rinehart nevertheless executed some of the style's benchmark works. Rinehart's public commissions include the bronze Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney (State House grounds, Annapolis, Maryland, 1872; modeled 1867–71), and an unusually large number of funerary monuments. He designed the bronze Love Reconciled with Death (Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, 1866–67) as a memorial to the wife of William T. Walters, his most important patron. Although not particularly characteristic, his most popular work (some twenty marble replicas exist), the sentimental 1859 Sleeping Children (original plaster, Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), embellishes a tomb for the Hugh Sisson children in the same cemetery.

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