William Wetmore Story
William Wetmore Story (American, 1819–1895)
1860, carved 1878
53 3/4 x 31 1/4 x 39 1/4 inches
Gift of the West Foundation in honor of Gudmund Vigtel and Michael E. Shapiro
From his studio in Rome, William Story passionately denounced the continued existence of slavery in 1860 through a series of letters published in Europe, England, and America. He presented this sculpture at the 1862 World Exposition in London as his “anti-slavery sermon in stone.” Its subject, the Libyan Sibyl, is an ancient prophetess who foresees the fate of the African people. Story embellished her with a talismanic hexagram pendant and an ammonite shell headdress that symbolically links her to the ancient Egyptian sun god, Amun.
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