Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the noted 19th century American Jewish sculptor, was born in Richmond, Virginia on October 28, 1844. One of 14 children of Jacob Ezekiel and Catherine de Castro, he had already started a mercantile career when he decided to attend college. Ezekiel entered the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia in September 1862, and during his VMI cadetship he took part in the Battle of New Market (May 15, 1864) and served in the trenches in defense of Richmond in the Spring of 1865. He graduated from VMI in 1866 and in 1867 began seriously to pursue his interest in art. He studied anatomy at the Medical College of Virginia and traveled to Cincinnati where he studied at the Art School of J. Insco Williams and in the studio of T.D. Jones. In 1867 he sailed for Europe and entered the Royal Academy of Art in Berlin.
At the age of 29, he won the prestigious Michel-Beer Prix de Rome for with a bas relief entitled Israel. The prize money enabled him to travel to Rome, where he established a studio and lived for the remainder of his life. Ezekiel executed in bronze and marble nearly two hundred monuments. Among his productions were busts of Lizst, Cardinal Hohenlohe, Eve, Homer, David, Judith, Christ in the Tomb, a statue of Mrs. Andrew W. White for Cornell University, Madonna for the Church La Tivoli, Faith for the Cemetery of Rome, Apollo and Mercury in Berlin, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Pan and Amor, the Fountain of Neptune for the city of Netturno, Italy, a bust of Lord Sherbrooke for St. Margaret, Westminister, London, and scores of other busts and reliefs. He also produced the Jefferson Monument for Louisville, Kentucky, the Homer Groupfor the University of Virginia, Virginia Mourning Her Dead for the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, Virginia, Napoleon I at St. Helena, a monument to Senator Daniel, Lynchburg, Virginia, and the Confederate Soldiers' Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Ezekiel died in Italy on March 27, 1917, but because of World War I, his body was not returned to the United States until 1921, at which time he was buried at the foot of the Confederate Memorial in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery.