About This Artwork

Joseph Mozier
American, 1812–1870

Pocahontas, 1868

h. 121.8 cm (48 in.)
Signed, dated, and inscribed (on the base): "J. MOZIER. Sc:/ROME. 1868"
Titled (on the base): "POCAHONTAS"

The Roger McCormick and J. Peter McCormick funds, 1997.366

Between 1848 and 1870, Joseph Mozier carved several depictions of Pocahontas, a subject of great popularity in 19th-century America. Born around 1595, Pocahontas achieved legendary status for saving the life of Captain John Smith, an English explorer, in 1608. Taken to the Jamestown settlement, she converted to Christianity and was baptized with the name Rebecca. Mozier’s sculpture depicts the moment of Pocahontas’s spiritual conversion. For Mozier, Pocahontas’s acceptance of the Christian faith signaled the superiority of Western civilization over the native culture. By showing Pocahontas alone, Mozier related the sculpture to the 19th-century desire to view her as a child of nature, whose Christianity came from within rather than through European contact.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Publication History

Judith A. Barter et al, American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 201-202, no. 92.

Kirk Savage, “Molding Emancipation: John Quincy Adams Ward’s The Freedman and the Meaning of the Civil War,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 26-39, fig. 8.

Ownership History

Frank Brykowski, by 1939; by descent to Trudie Brykowksi, Lake Zurich, Ill.,; sold by her to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997.

Interpretive Resources

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