George Washington

Artist: Horatio Greenough (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1805–1852 Somerville, Massachusettes )

Date: 1827–28; modeled, ca. 1832

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: 26 3/8 x 19 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (67 x 49.5 x 31.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. John Falconer, 1884

Accession Number: 84.8.2


Many nineteenth-century American sculptors, including Greenough, relied on Jean-Antoine Houdon's portrait of Washington, based on a life mask taken in 1785. Greenough was faithful to the physiognomy, but he altered the hairstyle, raised the eyebrows, and borrowed the blank eyeballs typical of imperial Roman and late antique portraiture. Although it is not certain when this bust was executed, Greenough probably modeled and carved it in Italy before receiving his important 1832 commission for a statue of Washington for the rotunda of the United States Capitol (now in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.).