Bust-length white marble sculpture of a young female figure crowned with a plait of wheat and framed along the bottom with a wreath of sculpted acanthus leaves.
A Neoclassical sculptor, Hiram Powers is best known for his ability to render the soft, life-like quality of flesh in stone, and his insistence on using only the best, nearly flawless marble in his sculptures.
Powers based the subject of this piece on the Roman mythological story of Proserpine (the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Persephone), in which the beautiful Proserpine, daughter of the goddess of agriculture, Ceres, was abducted by the god of the underworld, Pluto. She was allowed to return to her grieving mother for six months of the year, thus explaining the cycle of the seasons: during the spring and summer Proserpine was with her mother and the earth bloomed, during the fall and winter she was forced to be Pluto’s consort and earth fell into mourning.
Signed and dated in plate: I˘B˘Cipriani/MDCCLXVII. Inscription: IONATHAN MAYHEW, D˘D˘PASTOR OF THE WEST CHVRCH IN BOSTON, IN NEW ENGLAND, AN ASSERTOR OF THE CIVIL AND RELIGIOVS LIBERTIES OF HIS COVNTRY AND MANKIND, WHO OVERPLIED BY PVBLIC ENERGIES, DIED OF A NERVOVS FEVER, IVLY VIIII, MDCCLXVI, AGED XXXXV Inscription (in wreath): REMARKS ON AN ANON˘TRACT/P˘LXXXII/ I AM INDEED A POOR MAN