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Proske, Beatrice Irene Gilman

    Full Name: Proske, Beatrice Irene Gilman

    Other Names:

    • Bea Proske

    Gender: female

    Date Born: 31 October 1899

    Date Died: 02 February 2002

    Place Born: Thornton, Grafton, NH, USA

    Place Died: Ardsley, West Chester, NY, USA

    Home Country/ies: United States

    Subject Area(s): Romanesque, sculpture (visual works), and Spanish (culture or style)

    Career(s): curators and researchers

    Institution(s): Hispanic Society of America


    Curator of sculpture at the Hispanic Society of America. Proske was born on October 31st, 1899. She was raised by Milan Jeremiah Gilman, a farmer, and Alice May Hazeltine (Gilman). Though initially raised in southern New Hampshire, Proske’s father sought better schooling for his children, and moved the family to Connecticut in 1912. At Gilbert High School, Proske studied German, French, Spanish, and Latin. Subsequently, Proske pursued a B.S. in Library Sciences at Simmons College in Boston, which was conferred in spring of 1920.

    Following her studies, Proske worked in various roles at The Hispanic Society of America in New York City over the course of 53 years. Proske was a Research Cataloger for two years before her promotion to Assistant Curator of Sculpture in 1922. Between 1922 and 1929, Proske often traveled with colleagues to England, Spain, Italy, and France to study, catalog, and purchase Hispanic art on behalf of her post. These travels informed much of her work, including her 525-page book, Castilian Sculpture: Gothic to Renaissance, published by the Hispanic Society of America in 1951. For her persistent effort, the Hispanic Society of America awarded her a Sculpture Medal in 1953. In addition to her time there, Proske devoted herself to Brookgreen Gardens, a botanical garden in Georgetown County, South Carolina. Proske’s 1936 publication, a catalog of the Brookgreen Gardens outdoor sculpture collection, titled Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, first published in 1936 and revised in 1968.

    Between November 1968 and November 1969, Proske held the role of Curator of the Museum for the Hispanic Society of America. Proske worked throughout her retirement, advising the Hispanic Society of America, Brookgreen Gardens, and National Sculpture Review. Proske traced the development of the Spanish architecture style in an article she wrote titled SCULPTURE: From the Romanesque to the Twentieth Century, published in 1972 in Apollo. In 1975, Proske wrote on several American women sculptures for the National Sculpture Review.

    Brookgreen Gardens named Proske an Honorary Trustee in 1978, and later bestowed her an Inaugural Membership Medal in 1987. On December 4th, 1993, The National Academy of Design in New York, NY, dedicated their American Sculpture Symposium to Proske. Following Proske’s death, Louis Torres, founder of art journal Aristos, and Michelle Marder Kamhi, a co-editor, wrote that Proske “brings to her personal life the same rare mix of qualities she brings to her writing—forthrightness, wit, simplicity, warmth, a respect for tradition and scholarship, and just the right touch of elegance.”

    Selected Bibliography

    • “American Women Sculptors.” National Sculpture Review 24 (2–3): 8. 1972.
    • Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture. 1936. Reprint, Brookgreen Gardens, 1968.
    • Castilian Sculpture, Gothic to Renaissance. New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1951.
    • Juan Martínez Montañés, Sevillian Sculptor. New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1967.
    • “SCULPTURE: From the Romanesque to the Twentieth Century.” Apollo: The International Magazine of Art & Antiques 95 (April): 283–91. 1972.


    • Candida Smith, Richard. The Early Years of the Hispanic Society of America. The J. Paul Getty Trust, 1995.
    • Kamhi, Michelle Marder, and Louis Torres. “Beatrice Gilman Proske (1899-2002).” Accessed February 29, 2024.
    • [transcript] “Beatrice G. Proske.” Interviews with Art Historians, 1991-2002. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA.

    Contributors: Zahra Hassan


    Zahra Hassan. "Proske, Beatrice Irene Gilman." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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