(b. 1825, Waterloo, N.Y., d. 1892, Roma)
Marble, height 145 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
In the United States, as in France, Neoclassicism benefited from the political situation: it helped to bolster the regime by suggesting kinship between it and the Roman Republic of antiquity. Two generations of sculptors took up residence in Italy, first in Florence, to which they were attracted by Lorenzo Bartolini, and subsequently, after Bartolini's death, in Rome. They included, among others, Chauncey Bradley Ives, Hiram Powers, and Randolph Rogers, all for either Philadelphia or Boston, the two cities that vied with each other for the title of the "Athens of America."
The most sought after work among those produced by these artists was the Nydia by Rogers. Executed in Rome, the piece was inspired by Bulwer Lytton's novel, The Last Days of Pompeii. The sentimental unfailingly evoked in viewers by this blind girl shown fleeing the volcano made the work so successful that Rogers was obliged to set up almost a replica industry.