Wheeler Williams American, 1897-1972


The following is excerpted from Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture by Beatrice Gilman Proske (Brookgreen Gardens, 1968), pp. 360-363:


Wheeler Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 3, 1897, the son of Lawrence and Adèle H. (Wheeler) Williams. After studying sculpture at the Art Institute, he entered Yale and graduated in 1919 as of the class of 1918, his studies having been interrupted by service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Balloon Corps during World War I. He then turned to architecture, received his master’s degree from Harvard in 1922, and in the same year the medal of The American Institute of Architects. The work in sculpture which he had continued at Harvard with John Wilson earned second place with honorable mention in the Prix de Rome competition of 1922. Thereupon he chose sculpture as his profession and spent the next eight years in Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts with Jules Coutan before taking his own studio. Since his return to the United States in 1928 he has had a studio in New York, though much of his work has been done in California.


Keenly aware of the varied possibilities of different materials for his highly finished works, he has employed lacquered bronze for effects of polychromy, white-glazed porcelain for decorative figures, and for the many portrait busts which he has modeled preferably terra cotta, following the technique of eighteenth-century French sculptors. His years in France schooled him in fine craftsmanship and left on his art an impress of rarefied beauty.


Williams has received many awards for the excellence of his work, including gold medals from the National Arts Club and the American Artists Professional League. The Herbert Adams Memorial Medal was given by the National Sculpture Society in 1962 in recognition of his contributions to American art and his leadership in establishing the National Sculpture Review, which began publication while he was president of the Society. He is a member of the National Academy of Design and has been vice-president of the Architectural League of New York.

Memberships and Awards

The Architectural League of New York

National Academy of Design

National Sculpture Society (Fellow and past Vice President)

Medal of A.I.A., 1922

Hon. Mention, Prix de Rome, 1922

Ellin P. Speyer Prize, National Academy, 1936

Placed First, International Competition for pediment of National Library—Braxil, 1930

Gold Medal, Exposition Internationale, Paris, 1937

Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Contract, Sculpture International Philadelphia, 1940

Fine Arts Federation of New York (President)

Architectural League of New York (past Vice President)

Municipal Art Society (Director)

Beaux Arts Institute of Design

The Century Association

Allied Artists, etc.

Public Monuments

1930- “Tablets to Pioneers”, Michigan Avenue Bridge, Chicago, IL

1935- “Communications” West Pediment of the Environmental Protection Agency Building (formerly Interstate Commerce Commission), Federal Triangle, Washington, DC

1938- “Indian Bowman”, United States Post Office, Canal Street Station, New York, NY

1942- “Settlers of the Seaboard”, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA

1949- “The Venus of Manhattan”, Madison Avenue Façade, Parke Bernet Gallery, New York, NY

1951- Four servicemen sculpture on the Wall of the Missing, Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Cambridge, England

1952- “Fountain of the Water Babies”, Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA

1952- “Wave of Life, Houston Man Building (HMB) of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (was the Prudential S.W. regional office until 1974)

1955- “Robert A. Taft” plaque, Indian Hill Church Cemetery, Indian Hill, OH

1956- “Colonel Robert R. McCormick” bronze sculpture, Baie-Comeau, QC, Canada

1956- “Commodore John Barry Memorial” Wexford, Ireland

1959- “Robert A. Taft Memorial”, Capitol Grounds, Washington, DC

1960- “Muse of the Missouri” Fountain, Kansas City, MO

1961- “Spring, Summer, Fall” Memphis, TN

Request information

Please notify me when works by Wheeler Williams become available.