biography of Clark MILLS (1810-1883)

Birth place: Onondago County , NY

Death place: Wash., DC

Addresses: Wash., DC, from 1849

Profession: Sculptor; owner of bronze foundry

Studied: self-taught

Exhibited: NAD, 1847

Member: Wash. Art Assoc. (helped in its founding, served on bd. of directors)

Work: NPG; CGA; NYHS. Public monuments: Lafayette Square (Andrew Jackson") and Washington Circle ("George Washington), Wash., DC"

Comments: Ran away from home at the age of 13 and worked at various jobs in Syracuse and New Orleans before settling in Charleston (S.C.) in the early 1830's. Mills worked as an ornamental plasterer and learned to model in clay (about 1835) before finding work as a maker of life masks. He soon began adapting the masks into portrait busts in plaster and marble. With the help of patrons in South Carolina he had a chance to see the works of other sculptors at Wash., DC, and Richmond, Va. He was the first American sculptor who did not study abroad, the first American sculptor to cast his own bronzes, and the sculptor of the first equestrian statue erected in the U.S. His first major commission, awarded to him in 1848 by the Jackson Monument Committee, was for an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson (unveiled in 1853, Lafayette Square, opposite the White House, Wash., DC). This was the first equestrian statue made in the United States and for it Mills created his own bronze foundry just outside of Wash., D.C., the first foundry created for the casting of sculpture in America. The success of this work brought him other commissions from the Federal Government, including an equestrian George Washington (erected in Washington Circle in 1860) and the bronze cast of Crawford's monumental Armed Liberty" for the Capitol dome (installed in1863). The foundry also produced small bronze replicas of Mill's Jackson monument. Two of his sons, Theodore A. and Theophilus Mills, became sculptors (see entries). His bronze bust of "Apollo" was destroyed in the LOC fire of 1882.

Sources: G&W; DAB; Rutledge, Artists in the Life of Charleston; Rutledge, "Cogdell and Mills, Charleston Sculptors"; Fairman, Art and Artists of the Capitol; Taft, History of American Sculpture; Delgado-WPA cites New Orleans Bee, January 17 and 24, and Dec. 27, 1855, Courier, Jan. 6, 1856; 8 Census (1860), D.C., II, 95. See also Craven, Sculpture in America, 166-74; Baigell, Dictionary; McMahan, Artists of Washington, D.C.