About This Artwork

Horatio Greenough
American, 1805–1852

Abdiel, 1838/43

h. 61 cm (24 in.)

Gift of Elizabeth G. H. Bartol, 1894.562

Horatio Greenough lived in Italy for most of his adult life and is recognized as the first American to pursue marble sculpting as a profession. This bust is one of two sculptures he produced depicting Abdiel, an angel from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. With his finely chiseled features, pronounced profile, and elaborately carved Greek warrior’s helmet, Abdiel resembles the Classical statue Apollo Belvedere. Through his production of idealist works such as Abdiel and his writings on aesthetics, Greenough sought to educate Americans about art and culture, and to inspire them to produce a national art that reflected democratic values.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Publication History

Henry Tuckerman, A Memorial to Horatio Greenough (New York, 1853), ill.

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

Horatio Greenough, The Travels, Observations, and Experience of a Yankee Stonecutter (Gainesville, Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1958).

Nathalia Wright, Horatio Greenough: The First American Sculptor (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963).

Neil Harris, The Artist in American Society: The Formative Years, 1790–1860 (New York, G. Braziller, 1966).

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

Frances Greenough, ed., Letters of Horatio Greenough (New York, Kennedy Graphics/Da Capo Press, 1970).

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

Letters of Horatio Greenough, American Sculptor (University of Wisconsin Press, 1972).

William Gerdts, American Neoclassic Sculpture: The Marble Resurrection (Viking, 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/David R. Godine, 1976), ill.

Milo M. Naeve, Classical Presence in American Art (Art Institute of Chicago, 1978), p. 25, no. 31.

John S. Crawford, “The Classical Tradition in American Sculpture: Structure and Surface,” American Art Journal 11 (July 1979), pp. 38–54.

Milo M. Naeve, “The Edwardian Era and Patrons of American Art at The Art Institute of Chicago: The Birth of a Tradition,” America’s International Exposition of Fine Arts and Antiques (Lakeside Group, 1988), p. 24, fig. 8.

Tom Armstrong, “The New Field-McCormick Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Magazine Antiques 134, 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 822–35, pl. 8.

Janet Headley, English Literary and Aesthetic Influences on American Sculptors in Italy, 1825–75 (Unpublished diss., University of Maryland, 1988).

“Horatio Greenough’s Heroic Subjects: Abdiel and David,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (Yale University Art Gallery, 1991), pp. 33–48 (ill.).

Judith A. Barter et al., American Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago: From Colonial Times to World War I (Art Institute of Chicago, 1998), pp. 155-57, no. 68.

Ownership History

Elizabeth G.H. Bartol, Boston, from 1843 to 1894; given to The Art Institute of Chicago, 1894.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website