Alexander I (Sculpture)

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-[[Image:alexander.jpg|right|frame|Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.]]+[[Image:alexander.jpg|right|frame|Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Photograph by Edward Owen.]]
-[[Thomas Jefferson]] received a plaster copy of a bust of Tsar '''Alexander I'''<ref>This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1999.</ref> of [[Russia]] as a gift from the American consul general at St. Petersburg, Levett Harris, in 1804. The original bust was created by Fedot Shubin from a portrait. +'''Artist/Maker:''' Fedot Shubin, copy after Alexander T. Savinsky
-==Chronology==+'''Created:''' 1955 (copy); The one pictured here was not owned by Jefferson
-'''1804 Aug. 7.''' Levett Harris, American Consul General at St. Petersburg, wrote Jefferson that he was presenting him with a bust of Tsar Alexander I.<ref>Levett Harris to Jefferson, August 7, 1804; [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page030.db&recNum=1228 recipient copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref>+'''Origin/Purchase:''' Russia
-'''1806 March 10.''' A Jefferson memorandum notes the shipment to Monticello of a box containing a "Bust of Alexander." He noted it was to be placed in his cabinet on its arrival. <ref>Jefferson, memorandum, March 10, 1806; [http://www.masshist.org/findingaids/doc.cfm?fa=fa0031 Massachusetts Historical Society].</ref>+'''Materials:''' plaster
-'''1806 Apr. 18.''' Jefferson wrote Harris that he had received the bust "some time since" and thanked him. In accepting this gift he broke his usual rule of not accepting valuable gifts while in public office because his "particular esteem" for the Tsar placed "his image in my mind above the scope of law."<ref>Jefferson to Harris, April 18, 1806; [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page035.db&recNum=1092 polygraph copy] at the Library of Congress.</ref> +'''Dimensions:''' 33 x 19 x 12 1/2 in.
-'''c. 1815.''' Jefferson's [[Catalogue of Paintings]] at Monticello includes, in the [[Parlor]], "66. Alexander of Russia. a bust in plaister."<ref>Jefferson, "Catalogue of Paintings &c. at Monticello," Accession #2958-b, Thomas Jefferson Papers, University of Virginia.</ref>+'''Location:''' [[Parlor]]
-'''1820s.''' Cornelia J. Randolph's plan of the first floor of Monticello indicates the position of the bust on the north side of the door to the west portico (a bust of Napoleon was on the south side).<ref>[[Cornelia Jefferson Randolph]], "Monticello. Two Sketches of Plan Showing Location of Furnishings and Works of Art. Post 1826 July." Drawing N-563. Thomas Jefferson Papers, University of Virginia.</ref> +'''Provenance:''' Thomas Jefferson Foundation
-'''1956.''' Monticello acquired a modern plaster copy by Alexander Terentevich Savinsky of the marble bust made by Fedot Shubin at the time of Alexander's accession in 1801. The original portrait by Shubin is in the collection of the Voronezh Museum of Plastic Arts in Voronezh, Russia. The location of Jefferson's plaster copy is not known.+'''Historical Notes:'''[[Thomas Jefferson]] received a plaster copy of a bust of Tsar Alexander I<ref>This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1999.</ref> of [[Russia]] as a gift from the American consul general at St. Petersburg, Levett Harris, in 1804. Harris, like Jefferson, held a high opinion of the monarch, whose "greatness and goodness which he so remarkably unites."<ref>Levett Harris to Jefferson, 7 August 1804, [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page030.db&recNum=1228 Thomas Jefferson Papers], Library of Congress.</ref> The bust was transported from Washington to Monticello in March 1806. Jefferson wrote Harris to thank him in April:
 + 
 +<blockquote>"It will constitute one of the most valued ornaments of the retreat I am preparing for myself at my native home. I had laid it down as a law for my conduct while in office, and hitherto scrupulously observed, to accept of no present beyond a book, a pamphlet, or other curiosity of minor value; as well as to award imputation on my motives of action, as to shut out a practice susceptible of such abuse. But my particular esteem for the character of the Emporer, places his image in my mind above the scope of the law. I receive it, therefore, and shall cherish it with affection. It nourishes the contemplation of all the good placed in his power, and his disposition to do it."<ref>Jefferson to Harris, April 18, 1806, in [[Short Title List|L&B]], 11:101.</ref></blockquote>
 + 
 +Jefferson's instructions in 1806 were to place the bust of Alexander in the then-unfinished [[Cabinet]]. Later, to dramatize the contrast between evil and virtue, the bust of Alexander was installed opposite Napoleon's likeness, flanking the Parlor doors to the West Portico. Jefferson identified it in his Catalogue of Paintings as "Alexander of Russia. A bust of plaster."
 + 
 +Jefferson began to correspond with Alexander I in 1804, three years after his accession to the throne. He believed that Alexander was a person of noble character with Enlightenment values, and wrote laudatory comments about him to many people, including Joseph Preistely.<ref>See Jefferson to Priestely, 29 November 1802. [http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mtj1&fileName=mtj1page027.db&recNum=503 Thomas Jefferson Papers], Library of Congress.</ref>
 + 
 +Although Jefferson was full of optimism for what Alexander might accomplish, his reign was far from the success that Jefferson envisioned.
 + 
 +The original portrait by Shubin is in the collection of the Voronezh Museum of Plastic Arts in Voronezh, Russia. Jefferson's plaster is unlocated.
==Footnotes== ==Footnotes==
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[[Category:Art]] [[Category:Art]]
 +[[Category:Objects (Monticello)]]

Revision as of 14:55, 19 August 2009

Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Photograph by Edward Owen.
Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Photograph by Edward Owen.

Artist/Maker: Fedot Shubin, copy after Alexander T. Savinsky

Created: 1955 (copy); The one pictured here was not owned by Jefferson

Origin/Purchase: Russia

Materials: plaster

Dimensions: 33 x 19 x 12 1/2 in.

Location: Parlor

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Historical Notes:Thomas Jefferson received a plaster copy of a bust of Tsar Alexander I[1] of Russia as a gift from the American consul general at St. Petersburg, Levett Harris, in 1804. Harris, like Jefferson, held a high opinion of the monarch, whose "greatness and goodness which he so remarkably unites."[2] The bust was transported from Washington to Monticello in March 1806. Jefferson wrote Harris to thank him in April:

"It will constitute one of the most valued ornaments of the retreat I am preparing for myself at my native home. I had laid it down as a law for my conduct while in office, and hitherto scrupulously observed, to accept of no present beyond a book, a pamphlet, or other curiosity of minor value; as well as to award imputation on my motives of action, as to shut out a practice susceptible of such abuse. But my particular esteem for the character of the Emporer, places his image in my mind above the scope of the law. I receive it, therefore, and shall cherish it with affection. It nourishes the contemplation of all the good placed in his power, and his disposition to do it."[3]

Jefferson's instructions in 1806 were to place the bust of Alexander in the then-unfinished Cabinet. Later, to dramatize the contrast between evil and virtue, the bust of Alexander was installed opposite Napoleon's likeness, flanking the Parlor doors to the West Portico. Jefferson identified it in his Catalogue of Paintings as "Alexander of Russia. A bust of plaster."

Jefferson began to correspond with Alexander I in 1804, three years after his accession to the throne. He believed that Alexander was a person of noble character with Enlightenment values, and wrote laudatory comments about him to many people, including Joseph Preistely.[4]

Although Jefferson was full of optimism for what Alexander might accomplish, his reign was far from the success that Jefferson envisioned.

The original portrait by Shubin is in the collection of the Voronezh Museum of Plastic Arts in Voronezh, Russia. Jefferson's plaster is unlocated.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1999.
  2. Levett Harris to Jefferson, 7 August 1804, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.
  3. Jefferson to Harris, April 18, 1806, in L&B, 11:101.
  4. See Jefferson to Priestely, 29 November 1802. Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

See Also