George Washington

Giuseppe Ceracchi Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 755

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. 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." Indeed, in spite of the unfamiliar accoutrements of an ancient Roman military hero, the facial features are distinctly recognizable.

George Washington, Giuseppe Ceracchi (Italian, 1751–1802), Marble, Italian, Florence

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.