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Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii

Randolph Rogers | Nydia | 99.7.2 

Randolph Rogers (American, 1825–1892). Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii, 1853–54; carved 1859. Marble. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of James, Douglas, 1899 (99.7.2).

Rogers's evocative portrayal of Nydia, who was enslaved, highlights her courageous attempt to lead two companions out of burning, ash-covered Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Her closed eyes and staff allude to her blindness, while the hand raised to her ear refers to her acute sense of hearing. Nydia's windblown dress and forward-leaning pose stress the urgency of her movement through the rubble-strewn streets. The subject for Nydia was drawn from The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), a widely read novel by Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

"On that other side of her ear, this whole world around the sculpture came to life."

—Jennifer Morris, actor

"We get a sense immediately of the strength of her hearing."

—Alice Schwarz, educator

"Who is Nydia? Empowered woman or slave?"

—Thayer Tolles, curator

All voices: Thayer Tolles, curator; Jennifer Morris, actor; Quincy Tyler Bernstine, actor; Eric Kandel, neuroscientist; Alice Schwarz, educator

Transcript: Poised to Hear More (Video)