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Patience Wright: American Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy

Patience Wright: American Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.42

     challenging words:    crypt, re-create, wax-modeling, lifelike, life-sized, artistry, wage, legacy, loyalty, sculpt, wealthy, bust, politics, inevitable, political, education
     content words:    Patience Lovell Wright, Patience Lovell, New York, New Jersey, Joseph Wright, Jane Mecom, Ben Franklin, Buckingham Palace, King George, Boston Tea Party

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Patience Wright: American Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy
By Joyce Furstenau

1     Have you ever visited a wax museum? A wax museum usually has a collection of wax figures representing famous people in history. Did you ever wonder about the artists who make the sculptures of these lifelike figures made of wax? Patience Lovell Wright was considered the first recognized American-born sculptor. Her sculptures were made of wax.
2     Patience Lovell was born into a Quaker family in New York in 1725. At that time, most girls did not attend school. She and her eight sisters were raised in the Quaker faith. As a Quaker, Patience was used to being different. Quakers believed that women should have rights and education equal to men's. As a result, all the children in her family learned to read and write.
3     Patience and her family moved to Bordentown, New Jersey, when she was four years old. It was at this time she discovered her talent for sculpting. She and her sisters shaped wet flour or clay. When the sculptures were dry, they used plant extracts to paint them. It was clear that Patience had a great deal of talent for sculpting at an early age.
4     Unlike most young girls of that time, Patience waited until she was twenty-three to marry. She married a much older man named Joseph Wright. He was a landowner and spent much of his time away from home taking care of his properties. When he died, Patience had five children to support. Her husband left her no money, so she moved to Philadelphia to live with her sister. She began working with her sister, Rachel, in her small wax-modeling business there. She and Rachel soon opened their own studio when they got financial support from a lawyer and artist friend. Their customers were wealthy people who wanted life-sized wax versions of themselves.
5     Patience sculpted her models from memory. Her work was displayed in studios in both New York and Philadelphia. She became an excellent portrait artist. Her work was soon in great demand. Her customers sat for hours while she sculpted their likenesses from wax. Patience chatted easily with her customers. She often told them funny stories or discussed political opinions.

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