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Moses J. Ezekiel papers

Identifier: MS-0010
The collection consists of the miscellaneous papers of noted 19th century sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel. Included is the following:
  • Correspondence to VMI superintendent Edward West Nichols and others, 1867- 1917, some relating to the design of the Battle of New Market memorial sculpture Virginia Mourning Her Dead
  • Pen and ink sketches by Ezekiel (ca. 67 items)
  • A typescript version of Ezekiel's autobiography
  • Memoirs from the Baths of Diocletian
  • Miscellaneous print material


  • 1867-1917


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


1 cubic feet (2 boxes)

Biographical / Historical

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 VMI 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, Ohio 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, Germany.

At the age of 29, he won the prestigious Michel-Beer Prix de Rome for a bas relief entitled Israel. The prize money enabled him to travel to Rome, Italy where he established a studio and lived for the remainder of his life. Ezekiel executed nearly two hundred monuments in bronze and marble. Among his productions were the following:
  • Busts of Lizst, Cardinal Hohenlohe, Eve, Homer, David, Judith, and 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
  • The Jefferson Monument for Louisville, Kentucky
  • The Homer Group for the University of Virginia
  • Virginia Mourning Her Dead for VMI
  • Napoleon I at St. Helena
  • A monument to Senator Daniel, Lynchburg, Virginia
  • The Confederate Soldiers' Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia
  • Scores of other busts and reliefs
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.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Related Materials

The VMI Archives also holds a collection of photographs (photo# 0003586) related to Ezekiel. Included are images of Ezekiel, his studio in Rome, and various examples of his sculpture.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450