Olive Risley Seward

July 13, 2006

This 1971 statue, which stands in the front garden of a private house at North Carolina Avenue and 6th Street on Capitol Hill in Washington, is of Olive Risley Seward. The sculptor, John Cavanaugh, wanted to commemorate a member of the family of William H. Seward, secretary of state from 1861 to 1869, and he chose Seward’s daughter Olive. She faces towards Seward Square, named for her father. The story goes that there were no portraits of Olive in existence, so Cavanaugh sculpted a generic Victorian woman. Some years later, a photograph of Olive surfaced, and it turned out that he had, in fact, created a statue that was like her.