Evelyn Longman Batchelder

Evelyn Longman Batchelder

Induction Category:
Arts & Humanities

Born: 1874

Died: 1954

Inducted: 1994

Town: Windsor

Creator of Bushnell Park’s Spirit of Victory, Evelyn Beatrice Longman Batchelder was a longtime resident of Windsor, Conn., where her husband was headmaster at the Loomis-Chafee School. She also sculpted numerous other well-known monuments in Hartford, Windsor and around the country. Batchelder was the first woman to be allowed full membership in the National Academy of Design.

Evelyn Longman was born on a farm in Ohio, the daughter of Edwin Henry and Clara Adnam Longman. Her childhood was difficult and unhappy and, at the age of fourteen, she began working in a dry goods store. After six years she had earned enough money to begin studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. At the age of nineteen, she had discovered a love of sculpting after visiting the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. As an art student, her talent was soon recognized by her instructors and she was invited to work as an assistant instructor. She completed her four-year program in only two years, graduating with highest honors in 1900.

With only $40 in her pocket, she moved to New York City in 1901 and began to work with well-known sculptor Daniel Chester French. Her first recognized large-scale sculpture, Victory, was given a place on the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Festival Hall. In 1915, the AT&T Company commissioned her Genius of Electricity, which was placed atop the company’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan. An image of the sculpture also appeared on all Bell telephone directories published from the late-1930s to the 1960s. Longman also worked closely with her mentor, Daniel French, who sought her advice on his own designs. She worked on some of French’s major projects, including the Lincoln Memorial, for which she sculpted numerous wreath, eagle and inscription ornaments and is said to have sculpted Lincoln’s hands. Longman’s reputation continued to grow as she received many important commissions and won major competitions. In 1919, she became the first female sculptor to receive full membership in the National Academy of Design.

In 1918 she was hired by Nathanial Horton Batchelder, headmaster of the Loomis Institute, to sculpt a memorial to his late wife. Two years later she married Batchelder, moving to Connecticut at the height of her career. The dozens of works she completed during her 30 years in Connecticut include the Williams Memorial, for which she received a gold medal from the National Academy of Design; Aenigma, for which she received a prize from the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts; a large bas-relief portrait of Daniel French for the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian; and the Spirit of Victory, Hartford’s famous Spanish-American War Memorial. Other commissioned works include a marble fountain in the lobby of the Hencksher Museum of Art, the Horsford Doors on the chapel of Wellesley College, the Great Bronze Memorial door at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. She is the only sculptor for whom Thomas Edison would sit and her bronze bust of the inventor is displayed at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

At the time of her husband’s retirement, Batchelder moved her studio to Cape Cod, where she died in 1954 as one of the most respected and honored sculptors in American history.

In addition to Bushnell Park’s Spirit of Victory, many other Batchelder works are on display around Connecticut, including several in Windsor: Madonna and Child in the Grace Episcopal Church, the Eagle War Memorial, and the Founders of Windsor Memorial. Her last work, Victory of Mercy, is on display at the Loomis-Chaffee School.

During This Time
1921 - 1945: Prosperity, Depression, & War