University of Delaware Library

Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke, 1857-1935.

Henry Kirke Brown: The Father of American Sculpture manuscript


(bulk dates 1836–1882)

Descriptive Summary

Identification: MSS 561

Creator: Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke, 1857-1935.

Title: Henry Kirke Brown: The Father of American Sculpture manuscript

Inclusive Dates: 1836–1933

Inclusive Dates: (bulk dates 1836–1882)

Extent: 1.3 linear feet (2 boxes)

Abstract: This collection comprises the carbon typescript for an unpublished manuscript titled "Henry Kirke Brown: The Father of American Sculpture," which was compiled, written, and edited by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown. It additionally includes an abridged version with the same title, also prepared by Bush-Brown. The typescript contains a description of Henry Kirke Brown's life, transcripts of his correspondence, photographs of his homes and artistic works, poems, sketches, and a genealogical chart of the Brown family. Several original letters, poems, photographs, and art are tipped into the typescript.

Language: Materials entirely in English.


MSS 561, Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, "Henry Kirke Brown: The Father of American Sculpture" manuscript, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Shelving Summary

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Box 2: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes


Special Collections, University of Delaware Library / Newark, Delaware 19717-5267 / Phone: 302-831-2229 / Fax: 302-831-6003 / URL:


Gift of Wayne Craven, 1999.


Processed by Marina Dobronovskaya, February 2007. Revised and encoded by Teresa K. Nevins, December 2008.

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Notes

Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, 1857–1935

Henry Kirke Bush-Brown was the son of Caroline Bush (Lydia Brown's sister) and Robert W. Bush, but was adopted when he was very young by his aunt and uncle, Lydia Louise and Henry Kirke Brown, and raised at their Newburgh home. Bush-Brown began his sculptural studies with his uncle, then moved to New York to continue his art education at the National Academy of Design. For many years, Bush-Brown was a successful sculptor of portrait busts and public monuments, probably best known today for his equestrian bronzes of General George Meade (1896), General John F. Reynolds (1898), and General John Sedgwick (1913), all at Gettysburg, and his 1903 equestrian bronze monument of General Anthony Wayne at Valley Forge. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1910, and remained there until his death in 1935.

Henry Kirke Brown, 1814–1886

Henry Kirke Brown (1814–1886) was an American naturalist sculptor, producing sculptures and monuments in New York and Washnington, D.C.

H. K. Brown was born to farming parents, Elijah Brown and Rhoda Childsnear, in Leyden, Massachusetts, on February 24, 1814. He attended school at the Deerfield Academy until the age of eighteen. While a student at Deerfield, Brown demonstrated an aptitude for painting, and in 1832, he began to study art with successful Boston portrait painter Chester Harding.

In 1836, Brown moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent the next two years (1837–1838) painting portraits while living in an artists colony. During this period, he met Shobal Vail Clevenger, a sculptor who inspired Brown to switch from painting to sculpture. Brown returned to the East coast in 1839 and married Lydia Louise Udall. In 1842, Brown and his wife traveled to Italy, visiting Florence, Naples, and finally Rome, where Brown established a studio to pursue his sculptural studies. After four years in Italy, the Browns returned to the United States in 1846 and settled in New York City.

Following his sojourn in Italy, Brown rejected European neoclassicism, favoring naturalistic art and subjects that reflected American culture and values. When the American Art Union presented him with a commission for several small bronzes to be given as prizes, Brown decided to cast them himself and with the assistance of European bronze workers constructed a bronze foundry in his studio between 1846 and 1849. Thus, Brown was not only instrumental in bringing the techniques of bronze casting to America, he was also one of the first American sculptors to cast his own works in bronze.

In 1851, Brown established himself on the American art scene with his heroic bronze statue of Governor De Witt Clinton in Brooklyn's Greenwich Cemetery. That same year, he was honored by his peers with election to the National Academy of Design in New York. In 1856 he executed one of his most famous works, a bronze equestrian statue of George Washington for New York City's Union Square. During this period, he actively supported the establishment of a federal art commission composed of artists, rather than politicians, to oversee painting and sculpture projects in Washington, D.C. In 1859, President James Buchanan appointed Brown and two other artists to the newly-created National Art Commission. During this time, Brown also undertook a sculptural commission for the state capitol building in Columbia, South Carolina. This project was nearly completed when the Civil War brought work to a halt. The sculptures, still in Brown's workshop in Columbia, were destroyed by Gen. Sherman's troops in 1865.

After the Civil War, Brown received commissions for a number of major sculptural projects in New York and Washington. In 1868, Brown cast a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln for Union Square in New York, and he executed several statues and monuments for the nation's capital. These include statues of Nathanael Greene (1870), George Clinton (1873), Richard Stockton (1874), and Philip Kearny (1886) for National Statuary Hall in the Capitol building; an equestrian bronze of General Winfield Scott (1871) in Scott Circle; and an equestrian statue of General Nathanael Greene (1877) for Greene Square.

Following the death of his wife in 1879, Brown's own health began to fail, and he was no longer able to work. He died in 1886 in Newburgh, New York, where he had lived and maintained a studio since 1857.

Lydia Louise Brown, 1810–1879

Lydia Louise Brown was the eldest daughter of Judge James Udall, prominent member of the Vermont legislature, and Sophia Downer Champlin. Lydia and Henry met in 1836, while he was visiting her family in Hartford, Vermont, and they married on October, 28 1839. Lydia Brown died on December 10, 1879 at their home in Newburgh, New York, after a long illness.


Craven, Wayne. Sculpture in America. New and revised edition . Newark: University of Delaware; New York and London: Cornwall Books, 1984, pp.144-158.

“Brown, Henry Kirke.” American National Biography Online. (accessed May 9, 2007).

“Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke.” American National Biography Online. (accessed December 12, 2008).

Additional biographical information derived from materials in the collection.

Scope and Content Note

This collection comprises a carbon typescript for an unpublished manuscript titled "Henry Kirke Brown: The Father of American Sculpture," which was compiled, written, and edited by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, and an abridged version by the same title, also prepared by Bush-Brown. The manuscript contains a description of Henry Kirke Brown's life, transcripts of his correspondence, photographs of his homes and artistic works, poems, sketches, and a genealogical chart of the Brown family. Several original letters, poems, photographs, and art are tipped into the typescript; however, the bulk of the original letters Bush-Brown used for his transcriptions were destroyed in a fire.

This is one of three copies of the manuscript known to exist. The other two sets are located respectively in the Library of Congress (Henry Kirke Bush-Brown Papers) and Smith College (Bush-Brown Family Papers). Wayne Craven, H.F. du Pont Professor Emeritus of Art History, obtained this carbon typescript from Henry Kirke Bush-Brown's son, James, around 1975. At the time, Craven was planning to write a biography of Henry Kirke Brown, and the collection includes several pages of Craven's handwritten notes (F8, F13, F16).

The introduction and the first three chapters of the work offer an account of Brown’s early years. A genealogy of the Brown family is included in this section. The remaining volumes are made up mostly of full transcripts or extracts from Brown's correspondence with relatives, patrons, clients, colleagues, and governmental officials between 1836 and 1882. Correspondents include Chester Harding, William Cullen Bryant, James Buchanan, John Quincy Adams Ward, Shobal Vail Clevenger, Linus Yale, Sr., and others. A significant portion of the correspondence is between Brown and his wife Lydia Louise Brown. The Browns maintained a steady, frequent correspondence throughout their marriage. Even when together, as during their four-year stay in Italy, both of them wrote often to relatives and friends, providing an intimate, almost continuous narrative of their lives.

A few original handwritten letters are interspersed among the pages of the typescript manuscript, and in many cases, Bush-Brown included comments on the letters. Most of the letters are organized in chronological order and reflect significant periods of the artist’s life and career. Several chapters have overlapping dates, particularly those covering the years 1855–1862. Bush-Brown excerpted portions of his uncle's diary and illustrated the volumes with photographs of Brown's works. Many of the images are photoreproductions of Brown's sketches and studies, with a small number of original prints or drawings. The abridged version of the manuscript (F24-F29) includes information from chapters I-V, VII, X and XI, but contains only one illustration.

The dates of the letters span more than forty years, from around 1839 to 1882. They document private relations, domestic life, international travel, social change, and major cultural and political events such as the American Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States. This collection not only provides information about the life and career of the artist Henry Kirke Brown, it also offers a first-hand view of an important period in the cultural, social, and political history of the United States.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names
Bush-Brown, Henry Kirke, 1857-1935.
Brown, Henry Kirke, 1814-1886.
Brown, Lydia Louise, 1810-1879.
Bryant, William Cullen, 1794-1878.
Buchanan, James, 1791-1868.
Clevenger, Shobal Vail, 1843-1920.
Harding, Chester, 1792-1866.
Ward, John Quincy Adams, 1830-1910.
Yale, Linus, 1821-1868.
Yale, Catherine Brooks.
Topical Terms
Sculpture, American--19th century--Sources.
Public sculpture, American--19th century--Sources.
Public sculpture, American--New York (State)--New York--19th century--Sources.
Public sculpture, American--Washington (D.C.)--19th century--Sources.
National Statuary Hall (United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.)--19th century--Sources.
Bronze founding--United States--19th century--Sources.
Equestrian statues--Washington (D.C.)--19th century--Sources.
Equestrian statues--New York (State)--New Yorky--19th century--Sources.
Geographic Terms
Washington (D.C.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--History--19th century--Sources.
New York (New York)--Buildings, structures, etc.--History--19th century--Sources.
Italy--Description and travel--19th century--Sources.
Form/Genre Terms
Manuscripts (document genre)
Letters (correspondence)
Black-and-white photographs.
Personal Contributors
Brown, Henry Kirke, 1814-1886.
Craven, Wayne.
Brown, Lydia Louise, 1810-1879.

Related Materials in other Repositories

Henry Kirke Bush-Brown Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Bush-Brown Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

  • I. Original typescript
  • II. Abridged edition

The collection is arranged in two series, retaining the original volume numbers, chapters and pagination established by Henry Kirke Bush-Brown. The specific locations of illustrations, original letters and handwritten materials are noted in the contents list for the collection.

Detailed Contents List

Series I. Original typescript
Subseries I.A. Volume I

Chapter I, Introduction   [Box 1 F1]

pp. 1-32

p 1. Photograph of Henry Kirke Brown by Matthew Brady (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F1]

p. 28 a. Portrait of Rhoda Brown, 1845 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F1]

Chapter II, Childhood, 1814-1836   [Box 1 F2]

pp. 33-46

p. 33a. Photographs of H.K. Brown parents' house (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F2]

p. 35a. Portrait of Elijah Brown, father, 1855 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F2]

p. 35b. Elijah Brown on his death-bed, 1855 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F2]

p. 35c. Portrait of Jerusha Alexander, aunt (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F2]

Chapter III, Student Days and Early Profession as Portrait Painter, 1836–1839   [Box 1 F3]

pp. 47-148f

p. 83. Portrait of Adoline Udall (Mrs. Owen Taft) by Albert Hoit (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F3]

p. 143b. Portrait of Mrs. James Udall, 1839 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F3]

p. 143c. Henry, Caroline, and Edward Udall, 1839 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F3]

p. 143d. Sketch painting of Sofia Udall, 1838–1839 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F3]

p. 143e. Homestead of Hon. James Udall, Quechee, Windsor, VT (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F3]

p. 149. "Lines to my Mother," original handwritten poem by H.K. Brown   [Box 1 F3]

Chapter IV, Marriage, Life in Boston, Troy and Albany, N.Y., 1839–1842   [Box 1 F4]

pp. 149-297

pp. 154a-b. Photograph of Albert Hoit bust by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F4]

p. 183. handwritten poem (writer unknown)   [Box 1 F4]

After p. 297. Handwritten poems: "Faith," "To Elizabeth," and "To Miss" by Alfred B. Sweet, 1841   [Box 1 F4]

Subseries I.B. Volume II

Chapter V (1 of 2), Went to Europe-Returned to New York, July 1842-1844   [Box 1 F5]

pp. 298-401c

pp. 401b-c. Drawing from the Antique (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F5]

p. 408. Photograph of Graze by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F5]

Chapter V (2 of 2), Went to Europe-Returned to New York , 1844-August 1846   [Box 1 F6]

pp. 402-548

pp. 415a-h. Drawings and photographs of Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)    [Box 1 F6]

p. 435a. Drawing of David (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F6]

p. 454a. Drawing by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F6]

pp. 454c-e. Prints made by H.K. Bush-Brown from copper plates engraved by H.K. Brown   [Box 1 F6]

p. 489a. Drawing of Ruth (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F6]

p. 511a. Pencil drawing of H.K. Brown by George Baker, 1845, and sketch from the Antique by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F6]

p. 535. Handwritten poem, "To Henry on Seeing His Statue of David Triumphant," by Lydia Brown, 1844   [Box 1 F6]

p. 540. Handwritten "Sonetto" by Luigi Peretti addressed to H.K. Brown, 1846   [Box 1 F6]

Chapter VI, New York, August 1846–October 1848   [Box 1 F7]

pp. 548+-548/77

p. 548/48a. Crayon portrait of Mr. Brown, by Seth Cheney (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F7]

p. 548/48b. Crayon portrait of Mrs. Brown, by Seth Cheney (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F7]

p. 548/76a. Indians playing La Crosse, by H.K. Brown, 1853 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F7]

p. 548/76b. Me Sannacuado, Chief of Baydinoch, by H.K. Brown, 1848 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F7]

p. 548/76c. Photographs of busts, after 1861   [Box 1 F7]

Subseries I.C. Volume III

Chapter VII (1 of 5), Brooklyn, May 4, 1848 to September 1858, 1848-1851   [Box 1 F8]

pp. 549-601b

One page of handwritten notes by Wayne Craven   [Box 1 F8]

p. 595a. Photograph of The Choosing of the Arrow, bronze, made for the Art Union. Drawing by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F8]

p. 598a. Drawing for a monument, by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F8]

p. 598b. Photograph of W.C. Bryant bust, marble (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F8]

p. 601a. Photographs of a small model of Washington statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F8]

p. 601b. Photographs of a small model of Washington statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F8]

Chapter VII (2 of 5), Brooklyn, May 4, 1848 to September 1858, 1851-1853   [Box 1 F9]

pp. 602-667

p. 637a. Portrait drawing (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F9]

p. 637b. Portrait of Caroline C. Brown by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F9]

p. 654a. Handwritten poem, "God's Perpetual Inspiration" by James Richardson, Jr.   [Box 1 F9]

pp. 665d-f. Monument of Gen. Clinton in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn (photoreproduction)    [Box 1 F9]

Chapter VII (3 of 5), Brooklyn, May 4, 1848 to September 1858, 1853-1855   [Box 1 F10]

pp. 668-796

pp. 764a, b, c, d. H.K. Brown's house "Little Brook"   [Box 1 F10]

Chapter VII (4 of 5), Brooklyn, May 4, 1848 to September 1858, 1855-1856   [Box 1 F11]

pp. 797-841g

p. 797a. Portrait drawing (photoreproduction)    [Box 1 F11]

p. 817+. Photograph of a lamp (photoreproduction)    [Box 1 F11]

pp. 832f-832i. Design for Pediment for U.S. Capitol (photoreproduction)    [Box 1 F11]

p. 841 b-e. Handwritten poems "The Uses of Life," "A Spot Revisited," "God's Quiet" and "Slavery," by Cary Spencer   [Box 1 F11]

Chapter VII (5 of 5), Brooklyn, May 4, 1848 to September 1858, 1855-1858   [Box 1 F12]

pp. 842-926e

pp. 857o-u. Photographs of Washington's statue   [Box 1 F12]

p. 908a. Portrait of H.K. Brown by Louis Long   [Box 1 F12]

pp. 908b-c. Photographs of Indian and Panther, by H.K. Brown   [Box 1 F12]

p. 926a. Handwritten poem "Now We Learn"   [Box 1 F12]

Subseries I.D. Volume IV

Chapter VIII (1 of 3), United States Art Commission, February 5, 1858 to June 1862, 1858-1859   [Box 1 F13]

pp. 927-1049

Nine pages of handwritten notes by Wayne Craven    [Box 1 F13]

Handwritten note to H.K. Brown regarding art commission appropriation, 1862   [Box 1 F13]

Between pp. 961-962. Handwritten letter signed "Love, Henry" on back of meeting minutes   [Box 1 F13]

p. 1042a. Photograph of Gen. Scott's bust, 1858 (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F13]

Chapter VIII (2 of 3), United States Art Commission, February 5, 1858 to June 1862, 1859-1862   [Box 1 F14]

pp. 1056-1153

Chapter VIII (3 of 3), United States Art Commission, February 5, 1858 to June 1862, 1862   [Box 1 F15]

pp. 1154-1266d

pp.1266b-d. Photographs of H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F15]

Subseries I.E. Volume V

Chapter IX, South Carolina, April 1859 to May 1861, 1859-1861   [Box 1 F16]

pp. 1267-1374

Three pages of handwritten notes by Wayne Craven   [Box 1 F16]

Chapter X (1 of 2), The War, September 1861 to July 1862, 1861-1862   [Box 1 F17]

pp. 1375-1539

p.1513a. Drawing (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F17]

Chapter X (2 of 2), The War, September 1861 to July 1862, 1862   [Box 1 F18]

pp. 1540-1622

Subseries I.F. Volume VI

Chapter XI, September 1862 to July 1866, 1862-1866   [Box 1 F19]

pp. 1623-1799

Between pp. 1652-1653. Three letters dated May, June, August 1863 to H.K. Brown regarding pedestal design    [Box 1 F19]

p. 1684a. Photograph of the sculpture. Trinity Church, New York (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F19]

p. 1692a. Design for R. Fulton Monument (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F19]

p. 1732a. Photograph of Dr. Bethune statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F19]

p. 1748+1. Photograph of a fragment of mantel (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F19]

p. 1760+. Photograph of Col. Hawkins bust (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F19]

Chapter XII, May 6, 1866 to December 29, 1869, 1866-1869   [Box 1 F20]

pp. 1800-1926

pp. 1856b-e, 1910, 1920+. Photographs of Lincoln statues.    [Box 1 F20]

After p. 1926. Meeting notes and statement of intentions for advancement of art in the United States   [Box 1 F20]

Subseries I.G. Volume VII

Chapter XIII (1 of 3), December 1869 to June 10, 1875, 1869-1873   [Box 1 F21]

pp. 1927-1993

pp. 1931+2, 1931+3. Photographs of Gen. Green statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F21]

pp. 1941a-b. Drawings   [Box 1 F21]

pp. 1941c-d. Photographs of statues of horses (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F21]

p. 1967a. Photographs of Gen. Scott statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F21]

p. 1985c. Painting by H.K. Brown (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F21]

after p. 1993. Letter dated August 3, 1873, from H.K. Brown to Gordon   [Box 1 F21]

Chapter XIII (2 of 3), December 1869 to June 10, 1875, 1872-1874   [Box 1 F22]

pp. 1993a-2070

p. 2008a. Photographs of Gen. Clinton statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F22]

Chapter XIII (3 of 3), December 1869 to June 10, 1875, 1874-1875   [Box 1 F23]

pp. 2071-2140a

p. 2103d. Photograph of Indian breaking a wild horse (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2104a. Photographs of R. Stockton statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2104b-d. Photograph of H.K. Brown in a costume made for R. Stockton statue (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2117. Letter from H.K. Brown to Lydia Brown with pen drawing, and pencil drawing after the pen sketch   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2141. Photographs of a child bust (photoreproduction)   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2142. Photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Brown   [Box 1 F23]

p. 2144. Photograph of a horse   [Box 1 F23]

History of horse, "Virginia Dare," written by Lydia Brown   [Box 1 F23]

Series II. Abridged edition
Subseries II.A. Volume VIII

Introduction - Chapter I, Childhood; Chapter II, Commenced Painting, 1814-1839   [Box 2 F24]

pp. 1-65

Frontispiece. Photograph of Henry Kirke Browne by Matthew Brady (photoreproduction)   [Box 2 F24]

Chapter III, Henry K. Brown and Lydia Udall were married; Chapter IV, Mr. and Mrs. Brown went to Europe, 1839-1842   [Box 2 F25]

pp. 66-181a

Chapter V   [Box 2 F26]

pp. 182-298

Subseries II.B. Volume IX

Chapter VII (1 of 2), United States Art Commission, February 5, 1858 to June 1862, 1858-1862   [Box 2 F27]

pp. 299-402

Chapter VII (2 of 2), United States Art Commission, Febr1866; Chapter X, September 1862 to July 1866, 1862-1866   [Box 2 F28]

pp. 403-494

Chapter XI, 1867-1882   [Box 2 F29]

pp. 495-644