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Pierce Francis Connelly (American, 1841-1932)
Kate Annette Smith Wetherill, 1881
Marble, 21-7/8 x 20-3/4 x 13-3/4 in.
Signed and dated under subject's right shoulder: P.F. Connelly / 1881.
Gift of Miss Kate C. Lefferts and Isabella Lefferts Edwards.  1973.1

About This Work

One of the last of the American expatriate sculptors working in Italy, Pierce Francis Connelly was born in Louisiana, raised in Italy and England, and studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, before settling in Florence in 1861. There he met the popular American neoclassic sculptor Hiram Powers, whose idealized figure pieces and portrait busts inspired him to turn to sculpture. Connelly's work was immediately successful; and he was the best represented American sculptor at the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876, where he exhibited allegorical, mythological, literary and portrait subjects. Kate Annette Smith Wetherill (1852-1908) was the daughter of Suffolk County Judge J. Lawrence Smith and was raised in Smithtown, Long Island. In 1879 she married Reverend Joseph Bloomfield Wetherill, an Episcopal minister from Philadelphia, and they traveled abroad for the better part of the year. It is likely that it was at this time that the marble bust was commissioned, as Wetherill would have known Connelly's father, who was a clergyman at the American Episcopal Church in Florence. Like the neoclassical portrait busts of Powers, Connelly's work is highly finished and displays a concern for exacting detail, although his surfaces are more decorative, seen here in the naturalistic flowers encircling the bust.


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