Ideal Christ

Copied Hiram Powers, Ideal Christ, modeled 1864, plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson, 1968.155.79
Free to use

Artwork Details

Ideal Christ
modeled 1864
26 5823 1413 78 in. (67.659.135.2 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson
Mediums Description
  • Study — sculpture model
  • Religion — New Testament — Christ
Object Number

Artwork Description

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.

Luce Object 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