John Rogers (Sculptor) - Encyclopedia

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JOHN ROGERS (1829-1904), American sculptor, was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on the 30th of October 1829. In 1848 he became an apprentice in a machine shop at Manchester, New Hampshire, and remained there for about ten years. During the latter part of this time he had done some modelling in clay in his leisure hours, and, having decided to become a sculptor, he spent eight months in Rome and Paris in 1858-59. Becoming discouraged, he returned to America and obtained employment as a draughtsman in the office of the city surveyor of Chicago; but soon afterwards, owing to the favourable reception of his group of small figures, "The Checker Players," he resumed sculptural work, confining himself to these small figures, known as "Rogers Groups," which had an enormous popular success and were extensively reproduced. The Civil War in America gave him patriotic themes that increased his vogue and prosperity, and in 1863 he became a National Academician. His subjects were familiar scenes and incidents of home life known to the masses, and the reproductions of his groups were sold in the most remote districts as well as in the larger cities. He executed several life-sized statues, including "General John F. Reynolds" and a seated figure of Lincoln, both in Philadelphia; but it is by his statuettes that he is best remembered, and these were characterized by sentiment and human interest rather than any genuine artistic feeling. He died at New Haven, Connecticut, on the 27th of July 1904.

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