Kentucky Historical Society


Moments in Kentucky
Legislative History

34. Reinterment of Joel T. Hart (1884)

The General Assembly honored one of Kentucky's greatest artists, the sculptor and poet Joel Tanner Hart, by approving "an act to provide ways and means for the removal of the remains of Joel T. Hart from Florence, Italy, to the cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky," on April 22, 1884. Hart, who had died in Italy in 1877, had "by dint of his own indomitable will and commanding talents" succeeded in raising himself "from obscurity to national and world-wide prominence" and had achieved "a position second to none other that America or the world ever produced in the grand art of sculpture, and thereby added imperishable renown to his native State." His grave, however, was "unmarked and unhonored on a foreign shore." The governor was authorized to appoint "some suitable person or persons" to effect the return of his remains to Frankfort "where they shall be interred in the lot set apart by the State for the burial of her illustrious dead." This reinterment was accomplished in 1885.

Model hand of Mrs. F. Gillespie Stout, of Midway, Ky.

Model hand of Mrs. F. Gillespie Stout, of Midway, Ky., selected by Joel T. Hart for his masterpiece, Woman Triumphant. "It was the most perfect hand he could find." Hart began work on the statue in 1875, but died before its completion. George Saul, an English sculptor and former pupil of Hart, finished sculpting the figure. A marble replica of it in the Fayette County courthouse was destroyed in a fire in 1897. Photograph by W. E. Johns, Kentucky Historical Society Collections.

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