The art historian Richard Powell spent his time at the Academy following the tracks of Rome-based, African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis and traversing the terrain in which she lived and made art. He mirrored Lewis’s visits to the opera and museums to better understand what these experiences meant for her work.
Powell spoke about Lewis’s sculpture The Death of Cleopatra, as well as the Trieste-based Italian sculptor Francesco Pezzicar’s The Abolition of Slavery, in his lecture at AAR. He also worked on a book project on visual satire and found Rome to be a great place for researching irony, parody, and early Latin. “Being surrounded by classicists, poets, and other scholars informed my research and broadened my perspective on art history.” One such occurrence was a dinner conversation he had with a musicologist whose work focused on the representation of women in early eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera, which linked back to Lewis’s The Death of Cleopatra.