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Clark Mills and the Phrenologist

Charles Colbert
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 70, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 134-137
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3051158
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3051158
Page Count: 4
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Clark Mills and the Phrenologist
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Abstract

This note concerns an account published more than a hundred years ago that relates the circumstances surrounding Clark Mills's decision to become a sculptor. It is a revealing document about the culture of America in the antebellum era because it indicates the considerations that might have induced a young man of the time to take up art as a career. During a phrenological examination, Mills was convinced that he possessed the requisite talents to succeed in sculpture, and that conviction led him from the obscurity of his early life as a plasterer to a position of national eminence. He was not alone among artists in consulting phrenology for advice about his prospects: before phrenology is dismissed as the prosaic outgrowth of the century's infatuation with science, it is important to consider how it reinforced Romantic notions about innate genius.

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