Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Ideal Christ

modeled 1864 Hiram Powers Born: Woodstock, Vermont 1805 Died: Florence, Italy 1873 plaster 26 5/8 x 23 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (67.6 x 59.1 x 35.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson 1968.155.79 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 19A

Luce Center Quote

“I have given quite three months to the model of this work. It is not easy to satisfy oneself in so high an attempt.” The artist in a letter to Sir John Naesmyth, in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, 1989-91

Luce Center Label

This sculpture was probably inspired by a cast of an ivory crucifix that Hiram Powers kept on his studio wall. After he finished this plaster model of Ideal Christ, he received an order for a replica from William H. Aspinwall, who requested that slight changes be made to the figure’s mouth. He asked the artist to “diminish its fullness as to . . . make it harmonize with the . . . sorrowful serenity of the upper features.” Powers agreed to change the piece, but told Aspinwall that “the expression you have found in the mouth has not been accidental, but designed, and for myself I would not alter it.” This sculpture was not a popular choice for his patrons, and only two more replicas were carved from marble.


Religion - New Testament - Christ

Study - sculpture model



About Hiram Powers

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

More works in the collection by
Hiram Powers

Online Exhibitions