The Last of the Tribes Sculpture by Hiram Powers

The Last of the Tribes Sculpture by Hiram Powers
The Last of the Tribes sculpture by Hiram Powers

The Last of the Tribes sculpture is a marble carving of a woman with a skirt and topless body, exposing her breasts. A closer look gives a glimpse of the Native American tribes. It was created by Hiram Powers between 1867 and 1874. The three-dimensional sculpture was created on marble.

Its dimensions are 66 by 20 ½ by 33 in. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston purchased the sculpture through the funding of Agnes Collen Arnold Endowment Fund.  I was drawn to “The Last of the Tribes,” because of its topless body. I wanted to find out more about the sculpture. Looking at her face, I realized the artist twisted the face to display terror.

Therefore, the artists probably wanted to show how Native American women were terrified about the arrival of people from other parts of the world. Also, Native Americans had a rich culture. I was fascinated to realize that walking without covering breasts was a culture among the Native American tribes. Since there was no civilization, people could not see it as showing the private parts.  Moreover, the sculpture celebrates the beauty of Native American women.

The Last of the Tribes sculpture combines classicial idealism and naturalism. Classical idealism is the view that a piece of art should allow viewers to attach meaning. The sculpture shows a woman with exposed breats, thus giving the viewers a chance to enjoy beauty.

Also, the sculpture represents naturalism in the manner that the woman is presented in her anatomical features. Naturalism allows viewers to see the sculpture as it is in its natural state. The context of the sculpture is the originality of the Indian tribe before the arrival of Europeans in America.

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