Scupltor – Bethesda Fountain

Meet Emma Stebbins

A trailblazer in the arts and the first woman to receive a public art commission from New York City in 1873 when her sculpture the Winged Angel of Bethesda was unveiled in Central Park in tribute to the Croton Aqueduct.

Emma endured calls of nepotism, (her brother was the chairman of Central Park’s committee for fountains and architectural structures) and scathing reviews from the press. The New York Times wrote ‘ …a feebly-pretty idealess thing of bronze was revealed , the revulsion of feeling was painful.’

Prior to this commission she’d had a distinguished career as a sculptor in Europe and post this, she spent many of her days caring for her life partner, then writing the biography of her partner Charlotte Cushman, who passed in 1876. Emma passed in 1882 from a lung disease, likely from inhaling marble dust for many years.

B: 1815  – D: 1882 .

Immortalised by the  Bethesda Fountain, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park 1873.