Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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POWERS, Hiram, sculptor, born in Woodstock, Windsor County, Vermont, 29 July, 1805; died in Florence, Italy, 27 June, 1873. He passed his youth on his father's farm, and in 1819 emigrated to Ohio with the family. On his father's death he settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was in turn a clerk, a commercial traveller, and a clockmaker's apprentice. Having acquired from a German sculptor a knowledge of the art of modelling in clay, he executed several busts and medallions of some merit. Later he took charge of the wax-work department in the Western museum at Cincinnati, which post he held for seven years. In 1835 he went to Washington, where, for some time, lie was employed in modelling busts of well-known men. Owing partly to the assistance of General John Preston, he was enabled to go abroad in 1837, and he established himself in Florence, where he thereafter resided. For some time he devoted himself chiefly to modelling busts, but within a year produced his statue "Eve Tempted," which was pronounced a masterpiece by Thorwaldsen. Another statue with the same title was executed in 1850. In 1843 he produced the "Greek Slave," the most widely known of all his works. Of this statue six duplicates in marble have been made, besides innumerable casts and reduced copies in Parian. It was exhibited in England '! in 1845, and again at the Crystal pal-ace in 1851, and alsoin this country His other statues in-elude "The Fisher-Boy" (1846), which was three times repeated in marble; "America" (1854), designed for the top of the capitol at Washington, and destroyed by fire in 1866; "II Penseroso" (1856) ; "California" (1858) ; and "The Last of the Tribe," also known as "The Indian Girl" (1872). Of his ideal busts the best known are "Ginevra" (1840; 1865); " Proserpine" (1845): "Psyche "(1849) ;" Diana" (1852) ; "Christ" (1866) ; " Faith" (1867) ; "Clytie" (1868); "Hope" (1869) ; and "Charity" (1871). The greater part of his work consists of busts of distinguished men, including John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, John Marshall, and Martin Van Buren (1835); Edward Everett and John Preston (1845); and Henry W. Longfellow and Philip H. Sheridan (1865). He executed also statues of Washington for Louisiana, of Daniel Webster for Massachusetts, of John C. Calhoun for South Carolina (1850), and of Benjamin Franklin (1862) and Thomas Jefferson (1863). Powers had much mechanical skill, and was the author of several useful inventions, among which is a process of modelling in plaster which greatly expedites the labors of the sculptor by doing away with the necessity of making a clay model.--His son, Preston, born in Florence, Italy, 3 April, 1843, studied modelling under his father in 1867-'73. His first important work was the statue of Jacob Collamer (1875), which was originally ordered of his father. It was placed in the old hall of representatives in Washington. He executed also, in 1881, a statue of Reuben Springer for Music Hall, Cincinnati. Like his father, he works principally in portraiture, and has made numerous busts, including those of Louis Agassiz, in the museum at Cambridge; John G. Whittier, in the Public library, Haverhill, and a replica in the Boston public library ; Emanuel Swedenborg, four times repeated; Charles Sumner, owned by Bowdoin college; Ulysses S. Grant, in the war department, Washington; and Langdon Cheves. Of his ideal works the figure "Maud Muller " and the busts "Evangeline" and "Peasant-Girl" are best known. His professional life has been spent in Florence and in the United States.
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