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About This Artwork
Nydia, The Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii, modeled 1855–56, carved 1858
130.8 x 64.1 x 91.4 cm (51 1/2 x 25 1/4 x 36 in.)
Inscribed on base: "Rome 1858"
Bequest of Mrs. Uri Balcom, 1896.77
This statue is based on a character from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s popular 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii. In the episode depicted here, Nydia and her two companions attempt to flee the city after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The three become separated, however, and Randolph Rogers captured Nydia as she gropes her way through the burning city. The broken Corinthian column at her feet symbolizes fallen Pompeii, and Nydia’s clinging garments, entangled in her staff, indicate her chaotic surroundings. Because of its narrative quality, sentimental presentation, and classical features and proportions, this sculpture was extremely popular with the American public upon its first being exhibited.
— Permanent collection label
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. 177-179, no. 79.