- Additional Details
- Dimensions: 8”
By Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828)
At the time this portrait was made in Paris, Thomas Jefferson was 43 years of age and was serving as ambassador to France. Ten years earlier, Jefferson had gained notoriety by penning the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was later adopted with only minor corrections. Previously, he had been a lawyer for seven years, a member of the Virginia Assembly, the first Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia and representative at the Congress of the new Confederation. In 1784, he was appointed to negotiate commercial treaties in Europe, in association with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. It was during this period that he met Jean-Antoine Houdon, considered the foremost portrait sculptor of his time. His portrait of Jefferson, exhibited at the Salon in 1789, stresses Jefferson’s virile elegance, mental alertness and penetrating intelligence.
Jefferson served as Vice-President with John Adams, won the presidency, with Hamilton’s support served two consecutive terms as President (1801-1809). He founded the University of Virginia, which he designed architecturally. Jefferson after his retirement at Monticello became a living legend, a sage, whose advice and company were sought after by the best minds of two continents. When he died, on July 4th, 1826, 50 years to the day after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the country knew it had lost a monumental figure.