Amateis, Louis (1855–1913)

By: Rebecca H. Green and Kendall Curlee

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 31, 2014

Louis Amateis, sculptor, was born in Turin, Italy, on December 13, 1855, the son of Gen. Paolo and Carolina Amateis. He studied architecture at the Institute of Technology and sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, both in Turin, and received a gold medal from the Royal Academy for outstanding work. In 1880 he received a silver medal at the National Exposition in Turin. He also studied art in Paris and Milan before immigrating to the United States in 1883. Amateis settled first in New York City, where he did some architectural sculpture, primarily for the firm of McKim, Mead, and White. He married Dora Ballin in New York City on February 24, 1889; they had four sons. After his marriage Amateis moved to Washington, D.C., to found the School of Architecture and Fine Arts at Columbian University (later George Washington University), where he served as chairman of the Department of Fine Arts from 1892 to 1902. Among some of his best known works are the bronze doors (1909) intended for the west main entrance to the United States Capitol, a monument to the heroes of the Texas Revolution (1900) in Galveston, and busts of such prominent men as President Chester A. Arthur, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Amateis executed a number of monumental works in Texas. Four of his sculptures are in Galveston: the monument to the heroes of the Texas Revolution commissioned by Henry Rosenberg, a statue of Rosenberg himself (1906), a monument erected over the grave of Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder (n.d.), and a bronze monument to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War located in City Park (1894–1912). His other works in Texas include Spirit of the Confederacy (1907) in Houston and Call to Arms (1907–08) in Corsicana. The seventy-four-foot-high monument to the heroes of the Texas Revolution in Galveston, with its combination of classical allegory, historical friezes, and portraits of Texas heroes, typifies Amateis's style.

Amateis was represented at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (1901), and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis (1904). He also exhibited his work at the National Academy of Design in New York City and at the Art Society in Philadelphia. He was a member of the Society of Washington Artists, the National Sculpture Society, and the National Art Society. He died on March 16, 1913, in West Falls Church, Virginia, where he maintained a studio. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland. His son, Edmond Romulus Amateis, became a prominent sculptor during the first half of the twentieth century.

Dictionary of American Biography. Peter Haskins Falk, ed., Who Was Who in American Art (Madison, Connecticut: Sound View, 1985). Esse Forrester-O'Brien, Art and Artists of Texas (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). James M. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1974). Patricia D. Hendricks and Becky D. Reese, A Century of Sculpture in Texas, 1889–1989 (Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, 1989).

  • Peoples
  • Italians
  • Visual Arts
  • Sculpture

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Rebecca H. Green and Kendall Curlee, “Amateis, Louis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 31, 2014