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‘A woman of great courage’

Edmonia Lewis stamp dedicated

Lisa Farrington of Howard University addresses the audience during the ceremony.

The stamp honoring 19th-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis — the 45th in the Black Heritage series — was dedicated Jan. 26 in Washington, DC.

“Edmonia Lewis was a woman of great courage, talent and perseverance who broke through gender, race and class barriers,” said Chief Retail and Delivery Officer Joshua D. Colin, one of the speakers at the ceremony, held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“The Postal Service is proud to honor this great American sculptor with a beautiful commemorative Forever stamp,” he said.

Joining Colin at the dedication were the museum’s director, Stephanie Stebich; its curator of sculpture, Karen Lemmey; and Lisa Farrington, director of the Howard University Gallery of Art and the university’s dean of fine arts.

“As the holder of the largest collection of Edmonia Lewis’s work, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has a long history of championing this great American sculptor, and we are delighted to host this first-day stamp event in her honor,” Stebich said.

Alex Bostic, the stamp’s artist, and Antonio Alcalá, who served as art director, also attended.

Lewis was born in Greenbush, NY, in 1844, and attended Oberlin College. She later moved to Boston, where she created busts and medallion portraits of famous men and women.

She sailed for Europe in 1865 and settled in Rome, where she spent most of her career. Her studio became a magnet for American tourists.

Lewis’s social identity was a complex tapestry: African American, Native American, expatriate and later, convert to Roman Catholicism.

Recent decades have brought heightened attention to the sculptor and her work, resulting in previously unknown pieces coming to light.

One of her most famous works, the Death of Cleopatra, resides at the museum, which has more information about Lewis on its website.

The stamp is available at Post Offices and