Skip to main content
Select Source:

John Rogers

John Rogers

John Rogers (1829-1904) was the most successful genre sculptor of mid-19th century America. His plaster groups sold by the thousands.

John Rogers was born in Salem, Mass., and spent his early life as a clerk in New England, New York, and the Midwest. He began to model sculpture before the middle of the century. In 1858 he went first to Paris and then to Rome for training. The ideals of contemporary neoclassicism, as practiced by both American and European sculptors in Italy, did not inspire him, however, and he turned his back upon his sculptural pursuits when he returned to Chicago.

However, Rogers was persuaded to continue modeling small genre figures of a type he had done previously. Their success led him to open a studio in New York City in 1859. A combination of his sculptural ability and shrewd marketing practices quickly made that venture a success too. His work consisted of small, very detailed sculptures in plaster, built around a metal armature, and painted a neutral earth color. His grasp of anatomy and sharp observation of details of costumes and accessories were combined with an ability at compositional massing of figures and an appealing, sympathetic expressiveness. Some of his earliest works related to the Civil War, appealing to patriotism and to the popular sentiment against deprivation, the horrors of war, and slavery.

The majority of Rogers's sculptures featured scenes of everyday life—in the schoolhouse, at the parsonage, in the home, more often rural or small town. Among his more ambitious works were scenes taken from literature, including three sculptures from Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, some from Goethe's Faust, and a number of Shakespearean interpretations; even these stressed anecdotal rather than dramatic qualities. There were a few small portrait sculptures, too, of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Henry Ward Beecher. As time went on, Rogers's compositions tended toward greater looseness, and he also depicted more scenes of action. In all, there were about 80 so-called Rogers Groups, of which about 80,000 plaster reproductions were made. Rogers developed a mail-order business, and his works were often purchased as wedding presents. They cost about $10 or $15 each.

Rogers also executed a number of monumental sculptures, but these are far less significant than his plaster groups. They represent one phase of the reaction to the popular idealistic marbles, although in the 1850s some neoclassic sculptors were also producing genre works. Rogers had numerous imitators, but none achieved his renown.

Further Reading

Two full-length studies of Rogers are Mr. and Mrs. Chetwood Smith, Rogers Groups: Thought and Wrought by John Rogers (1934), and David H. Wallace, John Rogers: The People's Sculptor (1967). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"John Rogers." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"John Rogers." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/john-rogers

"John Rogers." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/john-rogers

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Rogers, John (American sculptor)

John Rogers, 1829–1904, American sculptor, b. Salem, Mass. Trained as an engineer, he was forced by failing eyesight to work as a machinist. He began modeling in clay as a pastime and studied sculpture in Rome for a short while. His early clay group, The Slave Auction, given publicity by the abolitionists, and "Rogers groups" had attained great popularity by the end of the Civil War. Thousands of copies were made by machine of such subjects as One More Shot, Going to the Minister, and The Wounded Scout. As accurate records of the period, they have regained a certain popularity.

See study by D. Wallace (1967).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Rogers, John (American sculptor)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Rogers, John (American sculptor)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rogers-john-american-sculptor

"Rogers, John (American sculptor)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rogers-john-american-sculptor

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.