Persephone, Hiram Powers

Hiram Powers (American, 1805–1873) Persephone, 1844 Marble Purchase, 1964 (3312.1) Likened by his contemporaries to Michaelangelo and Phidias, Powers is one of America’s most renowned 19th-century sculptors. In 1837, he left the United States for Italy to study firsthand the art of the Renaissance and ancient Roman Empire and to create work like this classically-inspired bust of Persephone, the goddess of spring. Powers created it during his time in Florence and reproduced it fifty times due to its great popularity in Europe and the United States. In his later work, however, Powers eschewed classical subject matter while embracing a Neoclassical aesthetic to focus on subjects with strong Christian undertones. Powers would never return to America; however, his work was exhibited extensively there and received great critical praise.