About this artwork
Modeling an abstract idea as a woman, here an allegory of America, artist Hiram Powers sought to give visual form to democratic ideals, which he believed would resonate strongly with audiences in both the United States and Europe in the mid-19th century. Draped cloth partially covers the figure’s chest and she wears a headband, or diadem, whose 13 stars signify the nation’s first states. This classicizing bust is drawn from Powers’s full-scale sculpture, similarly called America, in which the woman triumphantly raises one arm and stands upon broken chains. Living in Florence, Powers supported the uprisings there for a republican government. An abolitionist, he also strove to reaffirm the ideals of liberty and self-governance at home, where slavery—fueled by a white colonialist drive to expand westward—threatened the Union in the 1850s.
- Hiram Powers (Sculptor)
- c. 1850–1854
- H.: 73.7 cm (29 in.)
- Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund