Thomas Ball (June 3, 1819 – December 11, 1911) was an American artist and musician. His work has had a marked influence on monumental art in the United States, especially in New England.
He was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, to Thomas Ball and Elizabeth Wyer Hall. After several odd jobs to help support his family he spent three years working at the Boston Museum entertaining the visitors by drawing portraits, playing the violin, and singing. He then became an apprentice for the museum wood-carver Abel Brown. He taught himself oil painting by copying prints and casts in the studio of the museum superintendent.
As commissions started to come in he moved from studio to studio until finally settling in a studio in Tremont Row where he remained for twelve years. Here he painted several religious pictures and a portrait of Cornelia Wells (Walter) Richards, editor of the Boston Evening Transcript. He then turned his attention to sculpture, his earliest work being a bust of Jenny Lind.
At thirty-five he went to Florence for study. There, with an interval of work in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857—1865, he remained for more than thirty years, being one of the artistic colony which included the Brownings and Hiram Powers. He returned to America in 1897, and lived in Montclair, New Jersey, with a studio in New York City.
His work includes many early cabinet busts of musicians (he was an accomplished musician himself, and was the first in America to sing "Elijah").
Ball created the following sculptures:
* Charles Sumner in the Boston Public Garden
In 1890 he published an autobiographical volume, My Three Score Years and Ten, which was updated in 1900, and reprinted in 1993 under the title My Fourscore Years. He was the father-in-law of sculptor William Couper.
1. ^ Anderson, John R. "DEAN OF SCULPTORS.; Thomas Ball of Montclair Is Also Painter and Musician.", The New York Times, May 5, 1910.
* Taft, History of American Sculpture, (New York, 1903)
Thomas Ball; My Fourscore Years; 1900, (1994 Reprint is ISBN 0-9620635-2-5)
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