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Hiram Powers
Greek Slave
modeled 1841–43, carved about 1873
marble
44 x 14 x 13 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Benjamin H. Warder



A captive young woman turns her head in resignation and rests one of her manacled hands on a draped column. Despite her abuse and humiliation, she is the very image of dignity and endurance. This poignant nude refers to the enslavement of Greek Christian maidens by the Turks. However, crafted at a time when the issue of slavery was threatening to dissolve the Union, it was considered a commentary on the condition of American slaves.