Texas Joins the Battle

Elizabet Ney

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Elizabet Ney

Elizabet Ney was born in Münster in Westphalia, Germany, in 1833. Her father was a stone carver, and as a young woman, Ney went on a hunger strike when told she would not be allowed to follow in his footsteps because she was female. She got her way and studied sculpture in Munich and Berlin, where she developed a classical style that won her important patrons as a portrait sculptor. Among her early works were busts of Arthur Schopenhauer, Giuseppi Garibaldi, and Otto von Bismarck and a full-length statue of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

In 1863, Ney gave up the artistic life to marry Edmund D. Montgomery, a Scottish doctor, scientist, and philosopher. She kept her own name and referred to her husband as "my friend, Mr. Montgomery." They moved to Georgia, where they had two sons. The family moved to Texas in 1872. Ney managed the family plantation, Liendo, near Hempstead in Waller County, for much of the next two decades.

In the 1880s, she visited Austin at the invitation of Governor Oran M. Roberts, and decided to set up a studio there to resume her artistic career. Beginning in 1892, she sculpted numerous portrait busts, statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the Texas State Capitol, and a recumbent statue of Albert Sidney Johnston for the Texas State Cemetery. Copies of her Austin and Houston statues are also in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. Her marble of Lady Macbeth is displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American art.

In addition to her art, Ney took an active role in civic affairs, as shown in her correspondence with Mariana Folsom. She made her studio a salon in which influential Texans could meet and discuss art, politics, and ideas.

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Elizabet Ney, Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #1971/135-10

 

Page last modified: August 24, 2011