Houdon Bust (Sculpture)
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|==Further Sources==||==Further Sources==|
|*[http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=houdon&SL=None&Search_Code=SKEY%5E*&DB=local&SEQ=20070412111119&CNT=50&HIST=1 Look for sources in the Thomas Jefferson Portal]||*[http://tjportal.monticello.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=houdon&SL=None&Search_Code=SKEY%5E*&DB=local&SEQ=20070412111119&CNT=50&HIST=1 Look for sources in the Thomas Jefferson Portal]|
|-||*[http://archives.monticello.org/images/Curbatch3-0013_v.jpg Thomas Jefferson Digital Library]||+||*[http://archives.monticello.org/images/Curbatch3-0013_v.jpg Image from Thomas Jefferson Digital Library]|
Revision as of 13:07, 25 April 2007
Of the many life portraits of Thomas Jefferson, Houdon's bust (1789) is the most well known. Recognized almost immediately for its portrayal of Jefferson as a sensitive, intellectual, aristocratic, and idealistic statesman, it is considered to be a superb likeness. With its strong brow softening above an almost knowing half-smile, it is strikingly expressive, capturing Jefferson in thought.
Before leaving France, Jefferson acquired ten or twelve terra-cotta plaster busts by the artist of such American and French notables as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the marquis de Lafayette, John Paul Jones, Voltaire, and Turgot, evidently to create a "gallery of worthies" at Monticello. In August 1789, shortly before departing for the United States, Jefferson sat for Houdon himself and brought back several plasters of his own bust, apparently to distribute among friends.
This particular instance of Houdon's portrait is regarded as the finest of the six known early plasters and retains its original terra cotta patination. It is not one that Jefferson owned, however, as it still bears the seal of the French Royal Academy. It is very likely the one exhibited by Houdon in the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture's Salon of 1789. Having passed through several owners before coming to Monticello on loan in 1993, the bust became part of the permanent collection in 2001 through a generous gift from the Gilder Lehrman Collection of New York and its principals, Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman. The bust is on display in Monticello's Parlor.
A marble version of the Jefferson portrait is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Jefferson's own terra-cotta bust, which he may have displayed in his Cabinet, remains unlocated.
--Original author: Susan R. Stein, Monticello Curator, August 2002
- A small scale replica of the bust is available for purchase at the Monticello Gift Shop