Biography: Sculptor Thomas Ball is best known for his Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC. Born in Massachusetts, Ball worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, apprenticed to a wood carver, and sang professionally before pursuing a career as an artist. He taught himself oil painting to produce altarpieces and portraits, and then turned his attention to sculpture. He made his name with sculptures of Jenny Lind and Daniel Webster.
At 35 years of age, Ball went to Florence to study. He became part of the art colony there, socializing with writers, composers, and musicians, as well as sculptors including Hiram Powers. Ball was back in Boston from 1857 to 1865. His naturalist style of portraiture was successful. In 1865 he returned to Florence and stayed until 1897. He had students and apprentices, including Daniel Chester French and William Couper, who married his daughter.
When Ball returned to the States late in life, he lived in Montclair, New Jersey, and kept a studio in New York City.