The First African-American and Native-American Sculptor

Mary Edmonia Lewis was a trailblazer who shattered racial barriers as the first professional African American sculptor in the mid-1800s, becoming famous for her 1,408kg marble sculpture, The Death of Cleopatra.

Born around July 1844, in New York, her father was of African Haitian origin and her mother of African American and Native American descent.

Lewis and her older half-brother, Samuel, were orphaned at a young age and raised by their maternal aunts, who lived near Niagara Falls, in northern New York state.

The Death of CleopatraAccording to a Montana newspaper, Samuel started working as a barber at age 12, allowing him to support his sister. He would later become a respected barbershop entrepreneur in Bozeman, Montana.

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