Blind Homer Led by the Genius of Poetry

Artist: Edward Sheffield Bartholomew (1822–1858)

Date: 1851

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: 29 3/4 x 20 3/8 in. (75.6 x 51.8 cm)
Framed: 36 1/2 x 27 1/8 x 3 3/4 in. (92.7 x 68.9 x 9.5 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Morris K. Jesup Fund, and Gift of William Nelson, by exchange, 1996

Accession Number: 1996.74


One of many American neoclassical sculptors who worked on Italy during the mid-nineteenth century, Bartholomew had a brief but successful career. "Blind Homer Led by the Genius of Poetry" attests to his command of the illusionistic and technical challenges of relief sculpture. The figures project convincingly as Poetry leads Homer across a plinth. They are dressed in classical garb that clings to their bodies yet falls in stylizing folds, suggesting the pull between realism and idealism often evident in mid-nineteenth-century American sculpture. This relief—and indeed many by Bartholomew and other Americans—reflects the profound influence of Italian sculptor Antonio Canova, especially in the crisp linearity of form and refined carving. The marble is surrounded by its original gilt frame.