You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Katherine M. Cohen

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.

More on Katherine M. Cohen
Katherine M. Cohen
Full image
Katherine M. Cohen.
Photograph from Cohen's "Life of Artists," in Mary Kavanaugh Oldham Eagle's The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, USA, 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894.
Date of Birth
March 18, 1859
Place of Birth
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death
December 18, 1914

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Katherine M. Cohen." (Viewed on November 14, 2018) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs