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Elizabet Ney portrait by Friedrich Kaulbach, 1860.
Some of Ney's sculptures in the Elisabet Ney Museum.
Bust of Sam Houston by Elisabet Ney.

Franzisca Bernadina Wilhelmina Elisabeth Ney (26 January 1833–29 June 1907) was a celebrated sculptor and a pioneer in the development of art in the state of Texas, USA. She was a great-niece of Michel Ney, Marshal of France.

Ney was born in Münster, Westphalia, Germany to Johann Adam Ney, a stone-carver, and his wife Anna Elizabeth on January 26, 1833. In 1852, she began attending the Munich Academy of Art and after graduation two years later, moved to Berlin to study under Christian Daniel Rauch. While in Berlin, she completed well-known busts of Arthur Schopenhauer, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Otto von Bismarck. Ney also sculpted a full-length portrait of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Her works of this period were in a traditional classical German style with an emphasis on realism and accurate scale.

In Madeira, Ney married Scottish scientist and physician Edmund D. Montgomery on 7 November 1863. In 1871, they settled in Thomasville, Georgia, where their two sons were born. They purchased Liendo Plantation in Hempstead in Waller County, Texas, and moved there in 1873. While Montgomery tended to his research, Ney ran the plantation for the next twenty years.

In the early 1880s, Ney was invited to Austin by Governor Oran M. Roberts and decided to resume her artistic career. In 1892 she built a small studio in the Hyde Park neighborhood north of Austin and began to seek commissions.

Ney was commissioned to model Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The marble sculptures of Houston and Austin can now be seen in both the Texas State Capitol in Austin and in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Ney was also commissioned to do a memorial to Albert Sidney Johnston which can be seen at his grave in the Texas State Cemetery. Ney also sculpted a statue of Lady Macbeth that is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In addition to her sculpting activities, Ney was also active in cultural affairs in Austin. She died there 29 June 1907 and is buried next to her husband (who died four years later) at Liendo.

In 1911, friends established the Texas Fine Arts Association in her honor.

Her Austin studio is now the home of the Elisabet Ney Museum.


  • Cutrer, Emily Fourmy, The Art of the Woman: The Life and Work of Elisabet Ney, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1988 (ISBN 0-8032-1438-3)
  • Fortune, Jan and Jean Barton, Elisabet Ney, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1943
  • Hendricks, Patricia D. and Becky Duval Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas: 1889 - 1989 (exhibition catalog), Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1989
  • Little, Carol Morris, A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas, University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas, 1996 (ISBN 0-292-76034-5)

Elisabet Ney in fiction

  • Ney appears as a character in the novel A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry (Simon & Schuster, 2000) by Steven Saylor.

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