The White Captive

This statue, The White Captive, is by Erastus Dow Palmer and resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There was an era in which there was much public interest in lurid tales of white women being carried off into squalid captivity by “wild Indians”; this statue is from that era and is intended to represent such a captive woman:

girl captured and tied by wild indians

The Museum says of the statue:

It portrays a youthful female figure who has been abducted from her sleep and held captive by savage Indians. Hands bound, and stripped of a nightgown hanging from a tree trunk, she turns her head away from the terror, and clenches her left fist, in defiance of imminent harm. Palmer avoided the often cold appearance of Italianate Neoclassical sculpture, in part by using for his model a local girl. He was particularly commended for his use of a “thoroughly American” subject that makes a conscious allusion to the endless skirmishes between Native Americans and white pioneers.

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4 comments on “The White Captive”:

Vidiot commented on July 26th, 2008 at 9:18 am:

Reminds me of Hiram Powers’ “Greek Slave“, which was one of the most popular sculptures in Victorian America. (It’s currently at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC, where a special room was built for it.) Elizabeth Browining even wrote a poem about it.

RC commented on July 31st, 2008 at 2:59 am:

“Imminent harm” indeed! What a marvelous euphemism for the museum to use to deflect and sanitize this presentation of impending gang-rape and sexual torture of a lovely young woman to the sophisticated, art-loving public, impressionable young minds included!

If you are a guy viewing this along with your date, how should you react? Nod thoughtfully? Awkward silence? Pass by this one quickly, leaving your aroused lust unspoken?

Probably this last one is best. If a man lingers too long gazing at this one, the erection growing in one’s trousers would be embarrassing and awkward to explain to your female companion!

Grand_Marquis commented on August 3rd, 2008 at 8:58 pm:

@RC – If that’s the case, then I’d say you might want to think about finding a different female companion. :p

BlackBear commented on August 5th, 2008 at 3:32 am:

If you want a true “moment” then you should see it in person. Carved into the base (not visible in the above picture) are the words “The Gift of Hamilton Fish” (he bequested it in 1894).

That’s some “gift”! I wonder how *I* get a “gift” like that…

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