Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History


William Rimmer is an enigmatic figure in the history of American art. Works created by him are the single exception to an otherwise undistinguished body of mid-nineteenth century sculpture. Yet, Rimmer was virtually ignored by the art public of his generation. In his own lifetime the considerable skill and talent Rimmer evinced as a sculptor and draftsman were overshadowed by the novelty of his medical practice and teaching career. Rimmer's only true fame was to come not as an artist, but from the popular success of his "art anatomy" lecture courses in Boston and New York. Acknowledgement of the excellence of his teaching method and drawing skill, however, must have been insufficient praise to a man seeking artistic celebrity. The closed eye of the American art public could only have increased the existing feelings of frustration in Rimmer and made more bitter the fate he believed had been dealt him. Ironically, his fatalistic view of life became both the wellspring and circumscription of his artistic expression. William Rimmer's importance in the American art scene of the mid-nineteenth century is lost in the maze of contradiction that was his life.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008