This distinguished life-portrait of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is a copy of the original sculpted by the great portrait artist, Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). Houdon was much admired by Jefferson, who called him "the first statuary of this age." Jefferson's own collection at Monticello included portrait busts of Franklin, Washington, John Paul Jones, the Marquis de Lafayette, Turgot, and Voltaire, all by Houdon. Jefferson sat for Houdon at his studio in Paris in 1789 not long before his return to America. The first bust was exhibited in the Salon of 1789. This visionary and idealistic image, which shows Jefferson at the age of forty-six, has had an important influence on shaping the public image of Jefferson. The portrait has served as the model of John Reich's Indian Peace Medal (1801), the U.S. nickel (1943), and the 29-cent Jefferson stamp dedicated on April 13, 1993.
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