The Italian-born sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi came to Philadelphia in 1791 hoping to earn a commission from the United States Congress for a monument commemorating the American Revolution. To demonstrate his skill and attract attention, he modeled portraits from life of George Washington (1732–1799) and other influential Americans, which were later carved in marble. Although Ceracchi did not receive the coveted order from Congress, many of Washington’s contemporaries considered this portrait among the most lifelike to be made. Indeed, in spite of the unfamiliar accoutrements of an ancient Roman military hero, the facial features are distinctly recognizable.
Signature: On back of column: Ceracchi faciebat, Philadelphia, 1795
the artist, Giuseppe Ceracchi , Philadelphia (ca. 1792–95; sold to Josef de Jaudenes) ; Josef de Jaudenes , Philadelphia, United States and Cadiz, Spain (ca. 1795–ca. 1804; to his wife); by descent, Mrs. Josef de Jaudenes , Cadiz, Spain (ca. 1804–16; sold to Meade) ; Richard W. Meade (from 1820; descended in his family to his wife) ; Mrs. Robert Meade (until d. 1852; sold by her estate to Kemble) ; Gouverneur Kemble , Cold Spring, New York (1852–d. 1875; to his estate) ; Estate of Gouverneur Kemble (1875–1904; sold to Cadwalader) ; John L. Cadwalader (1904–14; bequeathed to MMA)