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“The Greek Slave” a Sculpture by Hiram Powers

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According to powers himself, the statue is a slave being held captive the Turks in the time of the Greek Revolution.  the Greek slave, a statue of a naked girl standing naked in chains shows us that there is no room left for shame for shame when one is standing exposed to the gaze of people she abhors awaiting her fate, tempered by the support of her reliance upon the goodness of God. (Great Exhibition, 1964)

It is such a pleasure looking at the “Greek Slave” of Hiram Powers. The sculpture expresses sentiment which awakens moral emotion. She stood exposed and chained to tell a story which has fidelity to history. The form is beautiful, but the face despite being insipid exudes some kind of purity and calm. The Greek Slave is clothed all over with sentiment; sheltered, protected by it from every profane eye. She stood there naked to be sold to a Turkish Harem. There stands the Greek Girl in the slave-market, with a charm as winning as the eye ever beheld, and every sympathy of the beholder is enlisted for the preservation of her sanctity; every feeling of the beholder is ready to execrate and curse the wretch that could buy such a creature. Indeed as Powers himself has described she is superior to suffering, and her state is already above degradation, by inward purity and force of character.

 The girl is a Christian as indicated by the cross and locket that can be seen on the drapery. She is characterized by a most remarkable simplicity and chasteness. Everything looked natural; there was no extravagance, no straining after effect, no exaggeration to make things more beautiful; all is calm, and sweet, simple nature. The Greek Slave represents the resignation, uncompromising virtue, or sublime patience of a person facing trials and sufferings.


  1. The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Commemorative Album. rev. ed. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1964. Figure 184.
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