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Randolph Rogers (American, 1825 - 1892)
Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii, after 1854, marble.
Given in memory of John W. Barr III, by the Barr Family 2000.12

The Victorian era has a reputation for being a somewhat romantic and sentimental period. The fact that Rogers’s Nydia was the single most popular full-length American sculpture in the nineteenth century seems to support this idea.

The sculpture depicts Nydia, heroine of Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s epic novel The Last Days of Pompeii, making her way through the city in its terrifying final hours. Nydia is a blind slave girl who has fallen in love with Glaucus. Glaucus unfortunately, is not only a member of the nobility, he is also in love with a beautiful woman named Ione. When Vesuvius erupts Nydia’s blindness works to her advantage. With her well developed sense of hearing she heroically leads Glaucus and Ione through the chaos and darkness to safety on a boat in the harbor. The next morning, confronted with the hopelessness of her love for Glaucus, she throws herself into the sea.

Through skillful deep carving and undercut surfaces Rogers renders the story in three dimensions. Terror and chaos are captured in her expression and the folds of her dress are whipped in the volcanic winds as Nydia picks her way through the city.

Nydia’s story appealed to the Victorian penchant for sentimentality, heroism and self-sacrifice and this carving beautifully embodies those elements.


 

 
 
 


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