The Life of Joseph Sibbel

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Born on June 7, 1850, and raised in the small town of Seppenrade, Germany, southeast of Dulmen, Joseph Sibbel exhibited artistic talent at an early age. Instructors persuaded his parents to send him to the university at Munster, Westphalen where he studied wood-carving and spent his spare time in the workshop of the sculptor, Achterman, where he learned to model with clay.

Sibbel emigrated to the United States in 1871 and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. He became a citizen in 1876 in the probate court of Hamilton County. In the mid-1870's, he attended evening classes at the Ohio Mechanics Institute (The beginnings of what is now the University of Cincinnati) and received instruction from the American painter, Frank Duveneck. During his time in Cincinnati, Sibbel apprenticed in several workshops, including that of Louis T. Rebisso, an American sculptor best known for his statues of historic, military figures including General Ulysses S. Grant and General W.H. Harrison.

In 1881, Sibbel moved to New York City where he drew attention with his work on two bronze lecterns for the A. T. Stewart Memorial (Now the Cathedral of the Incarnation) in Garden City. The word of his exceptional talent spread and he soon became part of many large ecclesiastical projects in New York City, Omaha, Providence, Hartford, Chicago, Little Rock, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and many other American cities. Less than a year after completing his contributions to Saint Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he entered the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital for an operation. He died of pneumonia five days later, at the early age of 57, on July 10, 1907. He is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.

The Joseph Sibbel Studio continued their work in the spirit of their founder for more than 50 years after his death. By 1965, the artist and his studio had provided sculpture and statuary for cathedrals and churches in 23 states and 100 cities!

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