Alexander I (Sculpture)

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
Bust of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.

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. The original bust was created by Fedot Shubin from a portrait.


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.[2]

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. [3]

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."[4]

c. 1815. Jefferson's Catalogue of Paintings at Monticello includes, in the Parlor, "66. Alexander of Russia. a bust in plaister."[5]

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).[6]

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.


  1. This article is based on Lucia Stanton, Monticello Research Report, 1999.
  2. Levett Harris to Jefferson, August 7, 1804; recipient copy at the Library of Congress.
  3. Jefferson, memorandum, March 10, 1806; Massachusetts Historical Society.
  4. Jefferson to Harris, April 18, 1806; polygraph copy at the Library of Congress.
  5. Jefferson, "Catalogue of Paintings &c. at Monticello," Accession #2958-b, Thomas Jefferson Papers, University of Virginia.
  6. 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.

See Also