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James Gibson Powers

modeled ca. 1838? Hiram Powers Born: Woodstock, Vermont 1805 Died: Florence, Italy 1873 plaster 11 1/4 x 6 1/4 x 5 5/8 in. (28.7 x 16.0 x 14.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson 1968.155.110 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 17B

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James Gibson Powers

Luce Center Quote

“. . . he died so calmly, that we hardly knew when his little spirit breathed itself away.” Hiram Powers, 1838, in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, 1989-91

Luce Center Label

James (Jimmy) Gibson Powers was Hiram Powers’s first child. He died from a brain tumor in 1838, when he was only four years old. Shortly after the boy died, Powers took a cast of his son’s face to preserve his likeness and perhaps use as a model for a bust. Some of the child’s eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair are embedded in the plaster, making the tragedy of his death real to viewers of this piece more than a century later.


Object - other - death mask

Portrait male - Powers, James Gibson - child

Portrait male - Powers, James Gibson - head

Study - sculpture model