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Work by pioneering sculptor goes on display to mark Black History Month

A rare sculpture by Edmonia Lewis is going on public display on the Isle of Bute.

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Edmonia Lewis was a pioneering 19th Century African American artist (Mount Stuart/PA)

Edmonia Lewis was a pioneering 19th Century African American artist (Mount Stuart/PA)

Edmonia Lewis was a pioneering 19th Century African American artist (Mount Stuart/PA)

A rare sculpture by pioneering 19th Century American artist Edmonia Lewis is going on public display in Scotland to mark Black History Month.

Lewis was the first woman of African and Native American heritage to gain international recognition as an artist.

One of her marble sculptures completed in 1870, titled Bust Of Christ, is going on display in Mount Stuart mansion on the Isle of Bute.

It has been in the aristocratic Bute family’s private collection for many years but was only recently rediscovered by historians and academics.

Lewis achieved international recognition as a neoclassical sculptor between the 1860s and 1890s, working in Rome, Paris and London after leaving the US.

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Bust of Christ sculpture by artist Edmonia Lewis (Mount Stuart/PA)

Bust of Christ sculpture by artist Edmonia Lewis (Mount Stuart/PA)

Bust of Christ sculpture by artist Edmonia Lewis (Mount Stuart/PA)

Mount Stuart’s collections curator Jessica Insley said: “Edmonia Lewis led an extraordinary life that defied the restrictive 19th-century norms of gender, class, race, and artistic practice.

“It is a privilege to be able to share one of the few surviving religious subjects by Lewis with the public, and particularly in a space like the British country house, where the contributions of women artists and under-served groups have traditionally been overlooked.

“It is especially important to put the Bust Of Christ on display now when there is a steady increase in the scholarly attention paid to Edmonia’s work.”

The sculpture, which goes on display from Monday, is one of only two of Lewis’ works which are in public collections in the UK.

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