Images of George Washington abound but the most faithful likeness remains a
terra cotta bust created by Jean Antoine Houdon. The French sculptor visited
Mount Vernon in October 1785 to carefully observe Washington’s movements and
expressions, even making a plaster “life mask” of Washington’s face to
accurately preserve every detail. Washington was then 53 years old. When
completed, Houdon gave the bust to Washington and it has remained at Mount
Vernon for over two centuries.
This portrait sculpture of George Washington is a reproduction of the original
marble bust which was crafted by the great French neoclassical sculptor
Houdon lived from 1741 to 1828, and was one of the
most celebrated sculptors of his day. He was commissioned to create sculptures
of a number of American leaders, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington,
and Thomas Jefferson.
This sculpture of Washington, in the classical
manner showing chest musculature, was the result of an invitation from Benjamin
Franklin to Houdon to come from France to Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.