William Wetmore Story was the son of Joseph Story, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and professor of law at Harvard University. After his father's death in 1845, Story was invited to create a memorial to his father, prompting Story to move to Rome to study sculpture. He sculpted both historical and mythological subjects including Cleopatra, Sappho, and King Saul. These life-size sculptures are often seated in deep contemplative absorption. Story's young Shakespeare, by contrast, readily engages with the viewer, with a welcoming gaze and relaxed open posture as if inviting the viewer into conversation. Completed in 1881, this acknowledgment of the viewer offers a more modern concept of the relationship between art and audience.
William Wetmore Story
24 3/8 x 12 5/8 inches (619 x 321 mm); 27 inches (686 mm), max. height
Signed with monogram, inscribed and dated on back of chair, "Roma 1881".
Acquired by J. Pierpont Morgan.