Youth (c. 1868)
26 x 16 x 12 in.
Among the most celebrated American sculptors of the nineteenth century, Franklin Simmons was the nations most admired and prolific sculptor during the Civil War. His sculptors of important figures; allegorical, historical, and mythological subjects, are on view at the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Huntington Library, and De Young Museum. Most notably, Simmons' monumental, full-figure statue of Ulysses S. Grant stands in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC.
This work, "Youth" (c. 1868), was recently found in a local collection, owned by the descendants of the engineers that explored the first silver and copper mines in the region. It is likely the first work created by Simmons upon arriving in Rome.
Born in Maine, Simmons eventually moved to Washington DC, where he met Abraham Lincoln, and made portraits of the President and several members of his administration. Like Hiram Powers, Simmons moved to Italy where he could oversee the process of transforming his portraits from plaster to marble.
Unlike many of his works from the era, this is not a portrait of a specific individual. It is perhaps an indication of Simmons' attempt, with his newfound skill, of working in marble himself without relying on the efforts of craftsman—as so many other sculptors of the time did—to show his understanding of classical, Greco-Roman aesthetics.