Proserpine, designed 1844; made 1844–1878
White Carrara marble
25 × 19 1/4 × 10 in. (63.5 × 48.9 × 25.4 cm)
Layton Art Collection L1897.1
Photo credit Larry Sanders
Hiram Powers’s limited training included sculpting portraits of friends. Fellow Cincinnatian and millionaire Nicholas Longworth noticed his work and became his patron, introducing him to presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren and financing travels to New York, Washington, DC, Paris, and eventually Florence, where Powers settled in 1837. Proserpine, based on an ancient Roman bust of Clytie, was reproduced over one hundred times by Powers’s studio. This second of three versions of the subject presents the mythical daughter of Ceres, goddess of agriculture, rising out of an acanthus, a symbol of immortality. Allowed by her kidnapper and husband Pluto, ruler of the underworld, to return to the surface only during the spring and summer, the innocent Proserpine brings bloom and joy to the earth.
This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.