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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated June 4, 1850.

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Item Description

Title: Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated June 4, 1850.


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882


  • Powers, Hiram, 1805-1873

Source Document

Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter



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Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated June 4, 1850., Original in the Hiram Powers and Powers Family Papers, microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, and loaned by the Cincinnati Historical Society, (accessed January 19, 2018)

Letter from GEORGE PERKINS MARSH to HIRAM POWERS, dated June 4, 1850.

Transcribed by : Ellen M Thomson and Ralph H Orth

TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski andEllen M Thomson

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Constantinople June 4 1850

Dear Powers

After waiting so long I ought to be ashamed to write you, but I dare say you will imagine a better excuse for me than I have ingenuity to invent, & I won't attempt an apology. We had a most delightful trip to Rome, stopping a day at Perugia (where we saw many wonders, and among other things, two fine miniature portrait busts in marble, at the museum of the university, antiques no doubt and very capital) and another at Terni. At Rome we spent about three weeks, and I was amazed at the vast number of great works in marble of the highest excellence. I did not think there had been so many chef d'oeuvres in the world as there are in the Vatican. With the Apollo at the Vatican, the Dying Gladiator at the Capitol, and a statue of a philosopher (some said Socrates, not his head certainly, others Aristides) found not very long since near Terracina & now at St John Lateran, I was de- -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- lighted beyond measure, and won't admit there is anything so good at Florence. The new gladiator, or rather athlete (for it is Greek sculpture) is really very fine, & capitally preserved. I don't find the expression characteristic enough, but I dare not criticize it to you. Like many other ignorant people, I had been made to believe the ancients couldn't sculpture animals. What an absurdity! Their animals in the Vatican are as miraculous as their gods & men. How is it that you, knowing and enjoying these things so much better than I, don't run away to Rome now and then? I don't see how you can help it. When you go, look into the Academy of St Luke, where there are wonderful, wonderful pictures, old & new, & among these last fine portraits, and among these again, a portrait of Hiram Powers under the name of Gibson. Is it he or you?

Well, after staying between two & three weeks at Rome, we went to Naples by land & spent near a month there, saw Pompeii, the museums (fine equestrian statues of the Balbi found at Herculaneum; the Venuses, ( I -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- don't think are so very fine) and above all, a really fine eruption of Vesuvius. Haven't we been lucky to see so many marvels of art and nature in one short winter?

From Naples, we came hither in the U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi & had a delightful trip. We remained at Pera from the time of our arrival (last of February) until the end of April & then removed for the summer to Therapia eleven miles up the Bosphorus. It has been constantly cold & still is so--colder than New York even, & almost as bad as Vermont ----

This is a good place for a painter, not for a sculptor. The people are all drapery, the drapery all colour. Form or fold, there is none, but you may make a rainbow out of a crowd, and with trees, water, & greenery, get up a landscape. The view of Constantinople & Pera from the water is the finest thing in the world, but within, there is not much. Their palaces are built of laths, & their mosques are, though of imposing exterior & proportions, poor and bald within.

My family all desire the -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- kindest remembrances to you & yours. Write me when you have nothing better to do, if such a time ever comes---.

Yours truly

Geo. P. Marsh
Mr Hiram Powers

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