George Washington

Artist: Hiram Powers (American, Woodstock, Vermont 1805–1873 Florence)

Date: 1838–44, carved after 1844

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: 31 x 23 x 14 in. (78.7 x 58.4 x 35.6 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Erving and Joyce Wolf, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.443.2


Powers based this bust of George Washington (1732–1799) on the authoritative portrait the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon had modeled from life during his visit to America in 1785. The dignified image of the first president became the most successful of Powers’s portraits, with at least thirty-six life-size replicas carved. In some of them, the shoulders are covered in contemporary attire, while in others, such as this example, they are enveloped in a toga-like garment, a standard Neoclassical device. In the drape and the unincised eyeballs, Powers sought to link the bust with antique portraiture.