Garden State has been a source of inspiration for famous artists
for centuries. Wax sculpture, landscape painting, watercolor,
and modern art are among the many styles that artists with
New Jersey roots have used through the years.
fact, the first American sculptor was from New Jersey.
Born in 1725, Patience Lovell Wright of
Bordentown began wax sculpting as a child. As she got
older, Wright put her work together in an exhibit. Her
sculptures of famous public figures were amazing in their
moved to England in 1772. There she created new wax models
of famous people, including the king and queen. People
loved her work. Her sculpture of British political leader
William Pitt was displayed in Westminster Abbey.
William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (detail)
wax effigy (1779)
addition to her artwork, Wright was an American patriot. During
the Revolutionary War, she welcomed American war prisoners
in her London home. Legend says she sent British military secrets
back to America hidden in wax figures, but there is no proof
wasn’t the only one in the Wright family with artistic
talent. Her son Joseph was a wax sculptor, too. He was also
a painter and a die maker. Her son-in-law John Hoppner was
few decades later, another New Jersey sculptor became well
known. In 1824 John Frazee of Rahway became
the first Native American marble sculptor. Frazee was never
formally taught art. He learned to sculpt marble on his own,
starting out as a tombstone cutter. You can view some of Frazee’s
work online. Check out his busts of John
Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief
Marshall, and Nathaniel
Bowditch, a famous navigator.