29 1/16 x 19 3/4 x 12 5/16 in. (73.8 x 50.2 x 31.2 cm) (integral base)
Joanna Quiner was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, and came late to sculpture. After a visit to the Boston Athenæum when she was about forty years old, she decided to try her hand at the art and produced this bust of the local reformer and civil servant, Robert Rantoul. Not only was it Quiner’s first bust, it was also the first sculpture by a woman artist to be shown at the Athenæum, where it appeared in 1846. The Boston Transcript praised Quiner in the politest of tones for the manner in which she captured the “strongly-marked features” of her subject with “the nicest accuracy.” “Brutally honest” might have been an equally accurate summation of the work.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.