Harriet A. Ketcham

1846-1890

Harriet A. Ketcham

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“Born in New Market, Ohio, July 12, 1846, [Harriet Ann McDivit Ketcham’s] parents removed to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, when she was five years old. There she graduated from the Wesleyan University. While quite young she was married to William B. Ketcham, a manufacturer, of Mount Pleasant. It was eight years after her marriage that she turned her attention to the art in which she became known throughout the State. Beginning to model in clay she soon discovered her skill in shaping figures. She was fascinated with the work and soon began a course of instruction with noted sculptors.

Ketcham finally determined to devote her time and talent to the profession and placed herself under the guidance of the famous Clark Mill. After ten years of work and instruction in this country she went to Italy and in Rome pursued her studies under the instruction of the most noted sculptors of that city. While there she executed the figure of “Peri at the Gates of Paradise,” which was taken to the Columbian Exposition and afterward placed in the Library of the State House at Des Moines. When designs were sought for the Iowa Soldiers’ Monument there were 47 submitted. The one made by Ketcham was accepted by the commissioners and the structure erected after that model. She made busts of President Lincoln, Senators Harlan and Allison and Judge Samuel P. Miller. Ketcham was stricken with paralysis while in the midst of her work, and died [Mount Pleasant, Iowa] on October 20, 1890.” — Benjamin T. Gue, “HISTORY OF IOWA from the earliest times to the beginning of the twentieth century,” (New York: The Century History Company, 1903), Volume IV, pp. 153-154.

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

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