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Belle Kinney

An important early twentieth-century sculptor, Belle Kinney graced Nashville with works at the War Memorial Building, the State Capitol, and the Parthenon. Born in Nashville in 1890, one of four children of Captain D. C. and Elizabeth Morrison Kinney, she won the youth sculpting competition at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. As a teenager she attended the Art Institute of Chicago; later she served as an instructor in the institute's sculpture department.

Her first Nashville work came at the age of seventeen when she sculpted in bronze a statue to Jere Baxter, president of the Tennessee Central Railroad. This extant work is now located at Jere Baxter School in Nashville. She completed her best work during the 1920s when she received the commissions for the bronze monuments to the Women of the Confederacy (1926), which stand in the courtyard of the War Memorial Building in Nashville and at Jackson, Mississippi. Her major project at the War Memorial, however, was designed in collaboration with her husband, Austrian sculptor Leopold F. Scholz, whom she had married in 1921. Their massive, heroic bronze statue of "Victory" dominates the atrium of the building.

Kinney and Scholz also collaborated in the reconstruction of the Parthenon at Nashville's Centennial Park during the 1920s. Basing their designs on the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum in London, as well as drawings dating to 1674 by Jacques Currey, they re-created the figures at the east and west pediments of the building. Where archaeological evidence did not exist, Kinney and Scholz used their research in Greek art and their study of live models to create appropriate interpretations of the missing pieces. In 1956 Kinney supervised the repair of the plaster models used in the original reconstruction of the figures.

Throughout her career, Kinney received commissions to prepare memorial statues and busts of famous Tennesseans. This work includes her statue of Andrew Jackson at the U.S. Capitol, her bust of Admiral Albert Gleaves at Annapolis, Maryland, and her busts of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk at the Tennessee State Capitol. The designs of Jackson and Polk were among her last. Kinney died at her studio in Boiceville, New York, on August 28, 1959.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010