Defying biblical prohibitions against graven images, Katherine M. Cohen created sculptures that explored Jewish themes and earned respect in both American and European circles. Cohen studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts under painter Thomas Eakins and worked at the Art Student League in New York as a workshop assistant to the sculptor August Saint-Gaudens before opening her own studio in Philadelphia in 1884. Cohen’s commissions included creating the seal of Gratz College and sculpting portrait busts of prominent Philadelphia Jews. She also chaired the choir of Mikveh Israel, a prominent Philadelphia synagogue. In 1893, Cohen travelled to the Chicago World’s Fair, where she spoke at the Women’s Pavilion on the lack of support for the arts in America and her frustration that artists had to travel to Europe to learn their craft. In 1887, she travelled to Paris to work under sculptors Puech and Mercie. While in France, she was elected an honorary member of the American Art Association, whose jury chose her sculpture The Israelite for the 1896 Paris Salon. Cohen resisted modernist and cubist trends, preferring more traditional approaches, and enjoyed great success for her ambitious works such as the multifigured Vision of Rabbi Ibn Ezra.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Katherine M. Cohen." (Viewed on September 26, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/cohen-katherine>.