Anne Whitney and Lady Godiva

I was intrigued when I saw a statue of Lady Godiva recently at the Dallas Museum of Art and noticed that the sculptor was Anne Whitney, who was born in 1821 and died in 1915.

The museum’s information explained that Lady Godiva rode naked through the streets in midday in an effort to get her husband to lower the people’s taxes.

I checked online. Most experts consider that story to be a myth.

However, Anne Whitney’s story is almost as fascinating. She was a real woman, a supporter of abolition and women’s equality, and a poet.

In 1875, after working as a sculptor for almost 20 years, she entered a national competition to produce a sculpture of the abolitionist Charles Sumner.

She won the competition. However, as soon as the judges discovered her sex, she was denied the job because it was “publicly decreed that a woman could not accurately sculpt a man’s legs.”

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