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
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
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
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.