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Robert Ball Hughes, 1860
Courtesy of Frederick R. Brown III
    Ball Hughes created many works of art based on religious themes, including the Wisdom of Solomon in wax & silver (1816), the life-size Group of nine Figures representing the Descent from the Cross (1828), the Monument to Bishop Hobart (1831), the colossal Statue of The Dead Christ, the Monk pokerism (1859, 1860, 1865, & 1866), and the Magdalen statuette (1860). See a front view of the statuette on the Friends of Robert Ball Hughes Photostream on Flickr.


(Courtesy of Frederick R. Brown III)

Art items. A statuette of a Magdalen recently modeled by Ball Hughes for a gentleman in New York is exciting much attention in that city. The Courier and Enquirer considers it the best work that the genius of Mr. Hughes has produced, original in its conception, and worthy of a place by the side of the finest specimens of modern art. The figure is a sitting one, hands folded on the lap, bearing a cross resting on the left breast, the body bent slightly forward and the head upraised. Our only criticism need be, it adds, that in this little figure, deep penitence mingled with the silent, hopeful prayer for forgiveness—the true ideal of a Magdalen—finds expression with a truth and beauty that commands admiration at once, and disarms all captiousness. (the article is clipped here)

    An interview with Ball Hughes oldest daughter,
Georgina Ball Hughes (1829-1911), is recorded in the article Boston’s Forgotten Sculptor. A handwritten note on the newspaper clipping says it’s from the (Boston) Sunday Globe, 31 March ’07. Regarding the Magdalen, Georgina says: 

“... In this house I have my father’s ‘Magdalen,’ as well as the noted group of ‘Capt Toby and the Widow Wadman.’ "

    Georgina was speaking of the Ball Hughes family home, Sunnyside, which she purchased in 1866.

    The following excerpt from an obituary for Georgina Ball Hughes also mentions that in 1911, the Magdalen was in Georgina's family homestead, Sunnyside, where she died.


“The house is filled with treasure, including the large plaster group of “Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman,” stored in an annex on the School-street side of the rambling old building. Ball-Hughe’s “Mary Magdalen,” for which this daughter posed when she was a young girl, is in the parlor together with many other choice bits of painting.”
Do you know the current location of the Magdalen? I also need the New York Courier and Enquirer articles about the Magdalen from around July-August 1860?
last update 2/28/2012
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2012