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


When this bust of George Washington first entered the collection in 1884, it was attributed to the Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850). The sculpture was subsequently reattributed, however, to one of Bartolini's American pupils, Horatio Greenough. Relying on Jean-Antoine Houdon's 1789 bust of Washington, which was based on a life mask, Greenough was faithful to 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, it was probably modeled by Greenough and carved in Italy before he received 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.).