Hiram Powers (American, 1805-1873)
Signed "H. POWERS" along the bottom edge.
Marble, height 3 in. (7.62 cm).
Condition: Minor losses to several petals.
Provenance: Purchased from the estate of the artist Charles Gates Sheldon (1889-1960) in 1961; thence by family descent.
Literature: R.P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, Vermont Sculptor 1805-1873, vol. ii (Newark, Delaware, 1991), pp. 185-87, nos. 217-18, other examples illustrated.
N.B. Expatriate artist Hiram Powers, America's most preeminent neoclassical sculptor, is probably best known for his idealized standing nude, the Greek Slave, which was the first publicly exhibited, life-size, American sculpture depicting a fully nude female figure. After completing his first version of Greek Slave in 1844, Powers produced five full-size versions, all in marble, each slightly different. These were exhibited to great critical and popular acclaim in the late-1840s in London and across the United States. The Greek Slave challenged Victorian taboos, but in presenting the work, the artist skillfully emphasized the figure's high moral and intellectual beauty. The public also recognized its reference to contemporary political events both in Greece and in the United States.
With Loulie's Hand, we have another life-size but far more intimate work. When Powers' daughter Louisa Greenough Powers was born in 1838, the artist delighted in making many casts of her tiny hands and forearm. Powers displayed one special cast, taken when the child was one year old, in a place of honor in his studio in Florence. Using that cast, Powers created a diminutive marble sculpture of Loulie's little hand resting on a sunflower, a symbol of devotion. The resulting work became so popular that Powers' patrons requested replicas for many years. The date of the sculpture here is unknown.
Small stain to one of the petals at lower left of the flower. Tiny surface loss in the stone to the back of the hand near the index finger. Other losses to edges of petals.
Items may have wear and tear, imperfections, or the effects of aging. Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.