Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Ginevra (first version, unfinished)

modeled 1838 Hiram Powers Born: Woodstock, Vermont 1805 Died: Florence, Italy 1873 marble 23 1/2 x 16 x 12 1/2 in. (59.7 x 40.6 x 31.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson 1968.155.23 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 19A


Exhibition Label

Hiram Powers (1805-73) was among the first American sculptors to establish an international reputation, rising to fame in the late 1840s with his Greek Slave, a life-size marble sculpture of a chained, nude woman. Few could have predicted Powers' incredible success from his humble beginnings on a farm in Ohio or his time in Washington, DC, where he made somber plaster portraits of four early presidents and other luminaries. Powers moved to Florence, Italy, with his wife and young children in 1837, lured there by its abundance of fine marble and highly skilled stone carvers. He quickly realized there was much to gain from making ideal compositions of nude figures drawn from literary, biblical, and historical themes. Powers set up a studio dividing labor among several assistants and, using the latest technologies such as the pointing machine, to create numerous replicas of his most popular designs in marble. Although he always intended to return to the United States, Powers remained abroad until his death and became an unofficial ambassador for American culture. He was a central figure in the expatriate colony in Florence, where he masterfully marketed his work to British nobles and American collectors touring Europe.

Luce Center Label

Hiram Powers began modeling the first version of Ginevra immediately after he arrived in Florence in the late 1830s. The name Ginevra was inspired by the poem Italy by Samuel Rogers, which tells the story of a young bride who vanished on her wedding night and was found dead in a chest more than fifty years later. The only way the body could be identified was by a ring bearing the bride’s name, Ginevra. Almost twenty years after the original bust was modeled, Powers created a second version while visiting his daughter in England.

Keywords

Dress - historic - classical dress

Figure female - bust

Literature - Shelley - Ginevra

sculpture

stone - marble

About Hiram Powers

Born: Woodstock, Vermont 1805 Died: Florence, Italy 1873

More works in the collection by
Hiram Powers

Online Exhibitions