Hiram Powers, America
"I am progressing rapidly with my new statue, which I intend to call America . . . I aim at an embodiment of our political creed, and I shall execute it . . . as soon as possible." - Hiram Powers, 1848
This marble bust by neoclassical sculptor Hiram Powers portrays nineteenth-century America as a Greek goddess. With her stylized features, regal crown of stars, and toga, she embodies the young democracy’s loftiest ideals by connecting the country to the legacy of ancient societies. This is a replica of part of a full-figure statue that Powers had hoped would stand in the U.S. Capitol. The figure was Powers' representation of America’s newfound freedom, the thirteen original states reflecting in the stars on her crown. Due to the government's disinterest though, only a number of bust replicas were commissioned by individuals. Like the bust of Abraham Lincoln by Sarah Fisher Ames in Woodmere’s collection, the sculpture relates American political identities to an idealized classical past. The sculpture is a fine counterpoint to contemporary Philadelphia sculptor Christopher Smith’s Still Life Fragment, a modern interpretation of the classical female nude form, which is on view in the same room at Woodmere.