DCSIMG
Death Mask of Hiram Powers by Thomas Ball / American Art
Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Death Mask of Hiram Powers

1873 Thomas Ball Born: Charlestown, Massachusetts 1819 Died: Montclair, New Jersey 1911 Joel Tanner Hart Born: Winchester, Kentucky 1810 Died: Florence, Italy 1877 plaster 9 3/8 x 6 1/2 x 9 3/8 in. (23.8 x 16.6 x 23.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson 1968.155.176 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 17A



Luce Center Quote

“But now those eyes so wonderful are closed,

Those cunning fingers all to sleep composed;

And I am here to guard his sacred dust,

While he, made perfect, walketh with the just.” Thomas Ball, “To Hiram Powers”

Luce Center Label

Hiram Powers was a gifted American sculptor who spent much of his life in Italy. His most famous work, Greek Slave, was the first fully nude life-size female sculpture put on public exhibition in the United States. Thomas Ball came to know Powers in Florence and the two developed a close friendship; the artist even had his villa built next to Powers’s home. Ball was deeply affected by the loss of his friend, whose death was due in part to silicosis, a lung condition he acquired from years of inhaling marble particles. He and Joel Tanner Hart, another American sculptor living in Italy, commemorated Powers’s life in poetry and by molding a death mask directly from his face. This tradition had become very popular by the nineteenth century. The artist carefully preserved his friend’s naturally calm expression, suggesting that he met death peacefully.

Keywords

Portrait male - Powers, Hiram

Portrait male - Powers, Hiram - head

State of being - death

sculpture

plaster

About Thomas Ball

Born: Charlestown, Massachusetts 1819 Died: Montclair, New Jersey 1911

About Joel Tanner Hart

Born: Winchester, Kentucky 1810 Died: Florence, Italy 1877

More works in the collection by
Thomas Ball

More works in the collection by
Joel Tanner Hart