Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Greek Slave by Hiram Powers

Photo: The Greek Slave (1851), marble sculpture by American sculptor Hiram Powers, 165.7 cm x 53.3 cm x 46.4 cm, located at Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

The original of the marble statue ‘The Greek Slave’, the most famous and most popular work of the American sculptor Hiram Powers is in Raby Castle, situated near Staindrop in County Durham, one of the largest inhabited castles in England. The statue was carved in Florence in 1844. Critics claim that the design of the statue was based on the ‘Venus de' Medici’ in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Powers himself described his work, “The Slave has been taken from one of the Greek Islands by the Turks, in the time of the Greek Revolution; the history of which is familiar to all. Her father and mother, and perhaps all her kindred, have been destroyed by her foes, and she alone preserved as a treasure too valuable to be thrown away. She is now among barbarian strangers, under the pressure of a full recollection of the calamitous events which have brought her to her present state; and she stands exposed to the gaze of the people she abhors, and awaits her fate with intense anxiety, tempered indeed by the support of her reliance upon the goodness of God. Gather all these afflictions together, and add to them the fortitude and resignation of a Christian, and no room will be left for shame.”

Hiram Powers made replicas of the original Greek Slave for sale to collectors, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Vermont State House, and Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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