Louisa Lander (1826–1923) was an American sculptor.
(Maria) Louisa Lander was born in 1826 in Salem, Massachusetts, to a successful artist family. She was the great-granddaughter of Elias Hasket Derby, and her grandfather on her mother's side was a relative of the painter Benjamin West.
She began sculpting in her hometown, then sought commissioned work in Washington, D.C. At age 19 she went to Rome where she studied with Thomas Crawford and worked as his assistant. She was part of a circle of American women expatriate artists in Italy at that time, including Harriet Hosmer, Anne Whitney, Edmonia Lewis, and Emma Stebbins, a group satirized by novelist Henry James as the "white marmorean flock." After Crawford's death in 1857, Lander established her own studio. Among her patrons was fellow Salemite Nathaniel Hawthorne, who sat for a portrait bust. Lander became close to the Hawthorne family in Italy but slanderous gossip about her character led the Hawthornes to break with her. According to the rumors, Lander had worked as a nude model. Her promising career floundered in the wake of the scandal. Critics have made the case that one or both of the two female artists in Hawthorne's work, The Marble Faun (1860), could be based on Louisa Lander, given their relationship. In the United States, she exhibited her lifesize marble statue of Virginia Dare (1859), representing the first child born of English parents in the Americas as an adult woman who had grown up among Native Americans and adopted their culture. Despite the sculpture's popularity, Lander could not find a purchaser for it. Critical praise from Elizabeth F. Ellet and a place in Ellet's Women Artists in All Ages and Countries (1859) were not enough to reignite her career. She died in Washington, D.C.
Lander's subjects included historical, mythological and literary figures, most of them women.
The majority of Lander's works are lost.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Concord Free Library, Concord, Massachusetts
- Virginia Dare (1859), Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke, North Carolina
- Undine (c. 1861)
- Evangeline (exhibited at the Dusseldorf Gallery, New York City)
- Elizabeth, the exile of Siberia
- Ceres Mourning for Proserpine
- Nicolai Cikovsky, et al., Nineteenth Century American Women Neoclassical Sculptors, Vassar College Art Gallery, exhibition catalog, 1972