American Neoclassical Sculpture Marble and bronze sculptures created in emulation of classical statuary were one way that Americans demonstrated a kinship with the ancient democracies of Greece and Rome. Citizens of the new American nation viewed that ancient period as a pinnacle of political and artistic achievement, and they strove to position the United States as the "new Athens," with a similarly enduring legacy. Most American neoclassical sculptors studied in Rome, where they learned traditional carving techniques and gained firsthand access to the masterpieces of the classical world. Sculptors also immortalized important public figures such as politicians, writers, and entrepreneurs in classically-inspired sculptures, thus equating American achievement with the lasting contributions of antiquity. Born and raised in Maine, sculptors Benjamin Paul Akers and Franklin B. Simmons rose to fame as the city of Portland and its residents increasingly championed their work, as well as that of their talented fellow artists. Akers's The Dead Pearl Diver (1858), first exhibited in Portland in 1859, was the very first work of art to be acquired by the Portland Museum of Art (then the Portland Society of Art). Simmons, in turn, was selected to create public sculptures in Portland's Monument and Longfellow Squares. Some of the artists in this gallery include Benjamin Paul Akers, Franklin Simmons, and Hiram Powers.