About This Artwork

Hiram Powers
American, 1805–1873

America, 1850/54

h. 73.7 cm (29 in.)

Art Institute of Chicago Purchase Fund, 1910.30

This marble sculpture is based on a full-length allegorical figure first designed by Hiram Powers in 1848 to memorialize the revolutions in Europe and to celebrate the democratic values of the United States. The 13 stars in her crown represent the Union’s original states. A patriot with abolitionist sentiments, Powers believed that until the ideal of “liberty and justice for all” was realized, the social turmoil dividing slave states from free would continue to threaten the sanctity of the nation.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Beloit College, Wis., Theodore Lyman Wright Art Center, 1932–1972.

Publication History

Lorado Taft, The History of American Sculpture (Macmillan, 1924).

Merle Curti, “The Impact of the Revolutions of 1848 on American Thought,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 93, 3 (June 1949), pp. 209–15.

Sculpture in American (New York, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968).

Sylvia Crane, White Silence: Greenough, Powers, and Crawford, American Sculptors in Nineteenth Century Italy (University of Miami Press, 1972).

William Gerdts, American Neoclassic Sculpture: The Marble Resurrection (New York, 1973).

Wayne Craven, “Images of a Nation in Wood, Marble, and Bronze: American Sculpture from 1776–1900,” Two Hundred Years of American Sculpture, exh. cat., (Whitney Museum of American Art, 1976).

Joshua Taylor, “America as Symbol,” America as Art (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1976).

Donald Reynolds, Hiram Powers and His Ideal Sculpture (Garland, 1977).

Vivien Green Fryd, “Hiram Power’s America: ‘Triumphant as Liberty and in Unity,” American Art Journal 18, 2 (1986), pp. 55–75 (ill.).

Tom Armstrong, “The New Field–McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques 134, 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 822-35.

P. Wunder, Hiram Powers: Vermont Sculptor, 1805–1873 (University of Delaware Press, 1991).

Art Bulletin 74, 4 (Dec. 1992), pp. 687–90.

Albert Boime, The Art of the Macchia and the Risorgimento (University of Chicago Press, 1993), ill.

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. 166-168, no. 73.

Eric Foner, “The Civil War and the Story of American Freedom,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), p. 13, pl. 1.

Ownership History

Ellen E. Powers, (the artist's daughter), Florence, Italy, to 1910; sold by her to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1910.

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