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Sculptor William Henry Rinehart

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Endymion Sleeping Children Ellen Walters Girl Strewing Flowers
Bust of William Walters Roger B. Taney Clytie Statue (BMA) William Prescott Smith

William Henry Rinehart was born in Union Bridge, MD in 1825. The son of a farmer, William began his career working as a fieldhand. The ambitious youth quickly graduated to an apprenticeship with a local stonecutter, an enforcement of his already peaked interest in the arts. In 1844 William moved to Baltimore, taking a job at Baughman and Bevan, then the largest stonecutting firm in the city. Initially tasked with fireplace mantel repair work, one of Rinehart’s first customers was William Walters, a railroad and whiskey man of considerable wealth who would go on the found the Walters Art Musuem. Walters, an avid art collector, was so impressed with Rinehart that he decided to sponsor the young artist. Their fruitful partnership lasted until the sculptor’s death in 1874.

Baltimore has a variety of Rinehart’s work on public display. The Baltimore Museum of Art has two of his important pieces, each designed in the Neoclassical style. Atalanta, an athlete in Greek Mythology, was finished after Rinehart’s death and may have been one of the last things he worked on. Clytie, considered to be the artist’s masterpiece, was completed in 1872 and purchased by John W. McCoy. A year later McCoy donated the statue to the Peabody Institute. Positioned in the middle of a dimly lit room lined with paintings, Clytie is both dignified and mischievous at the same time.

A bronze bust of William Walters is recessed in the outer wall of the Walters Art Museum at Mount Vernon Place. Inside the historic gallery are several pieces by Rinehart, including his original marble likeness of Mr. Walters, the Woman of Samaria and Brooch with Cameo of Spring.

Green Mount Cemetery contains several sculptures by Rinehart, including the renown Sleeping Children, of which there are twenty-five reproductions in galleries and private collections throughout the world. The work was commissioned by Baltimore businessman Hugh Sisson to memorialize his lost children. 150 years of wind and rain has deteriorated Sleeping Children in an elegant manner.

In the center of the cemetery, near the Mausoleum, Girl Strewing Flowers stands atop the Walters Family Plot, her stoic gaze fixed south. William Walters, his wife Ellen, their son Henry and the family servants reside peacefully below the majestic statue. Adjacent to Girl Strewing Flowers is the Tucker Memorial by J. Maxwell Miller. Miller graduated from the Rinehart School of Sculpture.

Known as the “last important American sculptor to work in the classical style,” William Henry Rinehart is one of Maryland’s greatest treasures. He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, a bronze reproduction of his Endymion statue rests peacefully atop his headstone.

Written by monumentcity

March 21st, 2011 at 8:12 pm