George Washington Bust - White
SKU ID #274198
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By Jean-Antoine Houdon (French, 1741-1828)
In 1784 the Congress of Virginia passed a resolution to have a statue of President Washington made for the State Capitol. Governor Harrison authorized Thomas Jefferson, then Minister to France, to select a European artist he considered worthy of this task. Benjamin Franklin was consulted and the choice fell upon Houdon, the foremost portrait sculptor of his time. Houdon’s acceptance was immediate and enthusiastic, although the commission necessitated a trip to the United States and he would have to “leave behind unfinished statues of kings,” as Jefferson reported back to home.
In July 1785 Houdon sailed for Philadelphia, accompanied by his friend Franklin and three of his workmen. Advised of the master’s arrival in September of that year, Washington hastened to invite him, in a most gracious letter, to Mount Vernon. After two weeks’ work Houdon took a life mask, other plaster impressions, minute measurements of Washington’s body and sketches back to Paris. His imposing and elegant statue was completed in 1792 and today still adorns the front of the Capitol in Richmond.
Using the same study material, Houdon later created several busts of Washington, in terra cotta as well as in marble, which became not less famous than the statue. Such a bust, reduced in size and cast in bronze, is the original from which this reproduction was made. It is owned by the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association.