Giuseppe Ceracchi (Italian, 1751–1802)
Overall (with base) 28 7/8 x 22 x 13 in. (73.3 x 55.9 x 33 cm), H. (without base) approx. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
Bequest of John L. Cadwalader, 1914 (14.58.235)
The Italian sculptor Ceracchi came to Philadelphia in 1791 with the hope of being asked by Congress to carve a monument to American liberty. He demonstrated his skill and attracted attention by executing bust portraits of the first president and of other influential Americans. Many of Washington's contemporaries considered this bust among the most lifelike portraits of him, but it did not win Ceracchi the coveted commission. Its realism was a far cry from the idealization that typified most Neoclassical sculpture. Moreover, Ceracchi's proposal was deemed grandiose and provoked James Madison to describe him as "an enthusiastic worshipper of Liberty and Fame [whose] soul was bent on securing the latter by rearing a monument to the former."