Hiram PowersSecond version: Modeled 1844; Cut 1847

University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art
Ann Arbor, United States


  • Title: Proserpine
  • Creator: Hiram Powers
  • Date Created: Second version: Modeled 1844; Cut 1847
  • Location: United States
  • Physical Dimensions: w47.5 x h60 x d29 (work)
  • Label Copy: The ancient Roman myth of Proserpine (or Persephone), the subject of this bust, accounts for the origins of the seasons. It tells of how the beautiful daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, was abducted by Pluto, the lord of the underworld. Ceres was so distraught at her daughter's absence that the earth ceased to be fruitful. Eventually Pluto allowed Proserpine to visit her grieving mother for six months of every year, during which time her mourning ceased and the earth bloomed. When Proserpine returned to Pluto, her mother's grieving was renewed and the world was again dark. The refinement of the features and the delicate translucency of the finish of Prosperine give it both a compelling psychological presence and a lifelike softness. Powers was both a master of the techniques of sculpture and an innovator of the materials and tools of sculpting. He developed a process for finishing the surface of his marble sculptures that gave them the likeness of living flesh. This was a hallmark of his work, one for which he received much public and critical acclaim. Powers was a very successful sculptor, and his exquisite rendition of Proserpine was one of his most popular busts; he made several versions of it, from which more than one hundred replicas were cut.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/musart/x-1991-sl-2.40/1991_2.40.JPG?lasttype=boolean;lastview=thumbnail;resnum=1;sel9=ic_exact;size=20;sort=relevance;start=1;subview=detail;view=entry;rgn1=musart_an;select1=starts;q1=1991%2F2.40
  • Medium: Seravezza marble

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