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Bust of Daniel Cottier

Cupid and Psyche


Olin Levi Warner (April 9, 1844 - August 14, 1896), an American sculptor and artist, was noted for the striking bas relief portrait medallions and busts he created in the late 19th century.[1]

Warner was born in Suffield, Connecticut. Warner’s great-great-uncle was the Revolutionary leader Seth Warner. As a young man he worked as an artisan and a telegraph operator. In 1869 he had saved up enough money to move to Paris, where he studied sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Francois Jouffroy, and worked as an assistant for Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.

When the French Third Republic was proclaimed in 1870, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion, resuming his studies when the siege was over (May 1871). In 1872 he removed to New York and established a studio. He was one of the founders and a member of the Society of American Artists in 1877[2] and an associate of the National Academy of Design in 1888.

A trip through the northwest territory led to a series of Indian-themed portrait medallions. He designed the souvenir half-dollar for the Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.

After meeting with little commercial success, however, he returned to live at his father’s farm in Vermont, where he also did work for manufacturers of silver and plated ware. Towards the end of his life his sculptures became known to a wider audience.

He died in 1896, after a cycling accident in New York's Central Park. In the 1970's Warner's heirs donated Olin Levi Warner's collection of personal papers to the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Warner is credited with popularizing the bas relief, through numerous portraits in this style. Among his best known works are:

* "May" (1872)
* "Edwin Forrest" (medallion, 1876)
* "Rutherford B. Hayes" (bust, 1876)
* "Twilight " (1878)
* "Dancing Nymph" (1879)
* "Gov. William A. Buckingham" (statue, 1883)
* "William Lloyd Garrison" (statue, 1885)
* "The Reverend William F. Morgan, D. D." (bust, 1887)
* Skidmore Fountain for Portland, Oregon (1888)
* "Diana" (1888)
* Major General Charles Devens (statue, 1892-96)
* In 1895, he was commissioned to create three bronze portals (tympanum and pair of doors) for the Library of Congress. The three tympanums and one door had been completed when he died. Herbert Adams completed the commission.[3]


1. ^ Tolles, Thayer. "American Relief Sculpture". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–., (October 2006)
2. ^ "Olin Levi Warner." The Sovereign Collection Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA. EarthLink
3. ^ Olin Levi Warner Biography. National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996).


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