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William Greene Turner

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William Greene Turner

William Greene Turner
Born (1883-10-21)October 21, 1883
Newport, Rhode Island
Died 1917
Newport, Rhode Island
Nationality American
Field sculpture

William Greene Turner (October 21, 1833 – 1917) was an American sculptor.


Turner was born at Newport, Rhode Island, the son of James Varnum Turner and Catharine Turner (née Greene).

During his adult life Turner was a dentist before being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry on June 5, 1861, at the outbreak of the American Civil War. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on November 28, 1861 and to captain in command of G Company on April 4, 1863. Shortly after assuming command of G Company, he was severely wounded on May 3 at the Battle of Salem Church, Virginia during the Chancellorsville Campaign. He was discharged from the Army on account of his wounds on July 21, 1863. He was subsequently sent by his family to Italy, since it was assumed the climate would improve his health.

Turner became immediately enamored of the works of the Italian Renaissance sculptors he saw in Italy and especially in Florence where he was lodging. Turner (under the sponsorship of his Uncle William Greene of East Greenwich, R.I.) chose to remain in Florence for the next thirty years taking a studio there. He took numerous commissions both from private sources and from the newly formed Italian government. Both the Redwood Library and the Newport Historical Society have examples of his work in marble and alabaster.

He became (as was often the fashion of the day), an American expatriate choosing to study and master his art abroad. His works were shown in Rome and Paris at various expositions during the 1870s and 1880s.

Among the more famous of Turner's American works is his bronze Oliver Perry Monument, which was unveiled on 10 September 1885 at the Parade (now known as Eisenhower Park) on Washington Square in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1890 Turner was elected as an honorary member of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati.

During the second decade of the twentieth century William Greene Turner moved home to Newport from Italy and spent his remaining days doing commissions in the United States. His bust of his brother famed Newport horticulturist, Doctor Henry Turner is among the possessions of the Newport Historical Society.

William Greene Turner never married. He died in 1917, and is buried at The Common Burial Ground, Newport, Rhode Island.


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