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Vinnie Ream

Vinnie Ream

The First Woman Commissioned By the U.S. Government for a Major Artwork

At 18, Vinnie Ream defied expectations and gender norms to become the first woman commissioned by the U.S. government for a major artwork - the iconic statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands majestically in the Capitol Rotunda today. Her journey in D.C. began in 1864, fueled by a passion for art and a chance encounter with President Lincoln himself.

Despite her youth and lack of formal training, Ream's talent and determination shone through. She captured Lincoln's essence in a life-size statue, earning her the attention of Congress and ultimately, the monumental commission. Her selection sparked controversy, but Ream persevered, working tirelessly for seven years in her Capitol Hill studio. The finished statue, unveiled in 1871, drew praise for its accuracy and sensitivity, solidifying her place in American art history.

Beyond Lincoln, Ream's artistic career in D.C. flourished. She sculpted prominent figures like Samuel Kirkwood and Sequoyah, leaving her mark on various government buildings.  She actively participated in the burgeoning art scene, exhibiting her work and advocating for female artists.

Vinnie Ream's legacy in Washington D.C. shines brightly as we celebrate her groundbreaking contributions. Breaking barriers as the first woman commissioned by the U.S. government for a major artwork, she blazed a trail for future generations of female artists. Her iconic statue in the Capitol Rotunda immortalizes Lincoln's legacy, serving as a poignant reminder of his enduring impact. Ream's influence extends beyond this monumental work, as she enriched D.C.'s artistic landscape through her sculpting of notable figures and active participation in the city's vibrant art scene, leaving an indelible mark on the capital's cultural heritage.

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