CAROLINE DAVIS WILSON (1810-1890)
Caroline Davis Wilson (1810-1890)
Magnolias on a Tabletop, Charleston Gardens
- Watercolor on paper
- 21 x 29 inches
- Signed lower right
- Caroline Wilson Davis, a talented sculptress recognized for her skill in creating portrait busts and figurative sculptures, was born in New York on July 11, 1810. In the late 1820s, she married Dr. Israel Davis, a Cincinnati physician specializing in herbal medicines, and moved to Ohio. Dr. Davis also bottled and sold “Superior Wine Bitters,” whose bottles are highly sought after by antique bottle collectors today. The couple had four children: Davies (1831-1905), Mary (1833-1927), Genevieve (1838-1865) and Buckingham (1840-1859).
Davis sculpted in clay, plaster and stone from the late 1830s until at least the mid-1860s. Though little is known of her artistic education, it is believed that Davis may have been inspired to begin sculpting after visits to the studio of John Frankenstein (1817-1881), the German painter and sculptor who emigrated to Cincinnati with his family in 1831. The Davises were landlords to the Frankensteins and it seems that the two families developed a close friendship. This relationship with the talented family of artists likely influenced the creative and stylistic direction of Davis’ own work. Cincinnati was a thriving artistic center in the late nineteenth century, and it is likely that Davis was also acquainted with fellow sculptors John L. Whetstone (mid 19th century) and Edward Augustus Brackett (1818-1908), who was similarly self-taught.