Augusta Savage, American Portrait sculptor, 1892-1963
Augusta savage, born in Green Cove Springs , Florida , showed talent at an early age and began her sculpting career selling animal figures at a county fair.
In 1921 she moved to Harlem and studied art at the Cooper Union. She began to be recognised and was recommended for a commission to sculpt WEB Du Bois and went on to sculpt other famous African American leaders including Marcus Garvey.
She received a scholarship to France but this was later rescinded due to the objections of white fellow Alabama students. She appealed but it was unsuccessful. This led to her lifelong fight for civil rights and recognition of African American artists.
She exhibited in various galleries and was commissioned to sculpt portraits of James Weldon Johnson, WC Handy and many more. She received a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and founded The Savage School of Arts.
Unfortunately, even though she was a leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance, due to lack of funds and sales, many of her works were only cast into plaster and so many have not survived including the extraordinary piece ‘Harp’ (see image) which was exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Sadly , due to lack of funds once again the sculpture was destroyed after the exhibition.
Augusta Savage retired to upstate New York and farm life in 1940, where she lived until shortly before her death, when she moved back to New York to live with her daughter Irene.