Infant Flora

Erastus Dow Palmer (1817-1904)
Date: 1857
Dimensions: 17 H x 11 W x 7 3/4 D
Materials: Marble
Marks: Inscribed under back edge: E. D. PALMER SC. 1857
Credit: Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase
Accession Number: 1968.43
Comments: Unlike most American neoclassical sculptors, Erastus Dow Palmer never studied in Italy, and his family (rather than the ancient world) often served as models for his work. This charming marble bust of a child, adorned with a jeweled headpiece and a delicately carved garland of spring flowers, is a portrait of his third daughter, Rebecca K. Palmer (1852-1931), at the age of four. It exemplifies Palmer's view that the "mission of the Sculptor's art is not to imitate forms alone, but through them to reveal the purest and best of our nature. Young children were a popular sculptural motif in the Victorian era. By naming it Flora—the Roman goddess of flowers and springtime—Palmer attempted to elevate the work from a simple portrait to a higher realm.