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G. P. Marsh - Hiram Powers Correspondence

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Collection Overview

George Perkins Marsh and Hiram Powers (1805-1873), the most famous American sculptor of the nineteenth century, had been boyhood friends in Woodstock, Vermont. They lost touch when the Powers family moved to Cincinnati but resumed contact in 1847 when Marsh and a former governor of Vermont, Charles Paine, wrote to Powers about commissions for the Vermont State House. By this time Powers was an established sculptor in Florence, where he had emigrated in 1837. The two men renewed their relationship after Marsh visited Italy in 1849 en route to his diplomatic post in Constantinople, and maintained close personal ties until Powers' death in 1873.

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Powers had a long and bitter relationship with members of Congressional committees who selected work for the new U.S. Capitol. This and other commissions are fully discussed in his correspondence with Marsh. The two men also shared an interest in Classical sculpture. Powers' letters describe in some detail the thinking that underlay his approach to art.

In addition to artistic matters, Powers and Marsh wrote frequently about the Civil War, its personalities, conduct, and significance. The letters also contain descriptions of the Powers family and of their circle of friends, including Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Also figuring in the correspondence are Caroline Crane Marsh, Marsh's wife, and George Ozias Marsh, his son, as well as Longworth Powers, Powers' son.

The letters in this collection date from 1847 to 1871. They are housed in the Marsh Collection at the Special Collections Department, Bailey-Howe Library, University of Vermont; the Powers Papers at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and the New-York Historical Society.

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Parent Collections

George Perkin Marsh Online Research Center

Published:  2008-11-26-05:00,  University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, Special Collections

Rights:  http://http://cdi.uvm.edu/about/rights