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HIRAM POWERS (1805-1873)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 224 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HIRAM POWERS (1805-1873), American sculptor, the son of a farmer, was born at Woodstock, Vermont, on the 29th of June 18o5. In 1819 his father removed to Ohio, about six miles from Cincinnati, where the son attended school for about a year, staying meanwhile with his brother, alawyerin Cincinnati. After leaving school he found employment in superintending a reading-room in connexion with the chief hotel of the town, but, being, in his own words, " forced at last to leave that place as his clothes and shoes were fast leaving him," he became a clerk in a general store. His second employer in this line of business having invested his capital in a clock and organ factory, Powers set himself to master the construction of the instruments, displaying an aptitude which in a short time enabled him to become the first mechanic in the factory. In 1826 he began to frequent the studio of Mr Eckstein, and at once conceived a strong passion for the art of sculpture. His proficiency in modelling secured him the situation of general assistant and artist of the Western Museum, kept by a Frenchman named Dorfeuille, where his ingenious representation of the infernal regions to illustrate the more striking scenes in the poem of Dante met with extraordinary success. After studying thoroughly the art of modelling and casting, at the end of 1834 he went to Washington, where his remarkable gifts soon awakened general attention. In 1837 he settled in Florence, where he remained till his death. While he found it profitable to devote the greater part of his time to busts, his best efforts were bestowed on ideal work. In 1839 his statue of " Eve " excited the warm admiration of Thorwaldsen, and in 1843 he produced his celebrated " Greek Slave," which at once gave him a place among the leading sculptors of his time. Among the best known of his other ideal statues are the " Fisher Boy." " Il Penseroso," Proserpine," " California," " America " (modelled for the Crystal Palace, Sydenham), and the " Last of his Tribe." He died on the 27th of June 1873. See an article by T. A. Trollope in Lippincott's Magazine for February 1875.
End of Article: HIRAM POWERS (1805-1873)
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