Low-fired clay, plaster base
Height of bust only: 17 1/2 inHeight of bust plus base: 22 1/2 inWidth: 13 in at widest pointDepth: 9 1/8 inBase: 5
Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860
On edge of proper right shoulder: "HOUDON F. 1785"
- Ask students to write a backstory for Washington’s expression on the Houdon bust based on their knowledge of George Washington and America around 1785. Instruct students to imagine they are Washington at this time period. What would Washington be thinking? What issues were significant during the few years leading up to the presidency?
- Sculptural busts are often created to remember political figures and important people in history. Ask students to research other sculptures of historical figures (busts or full figures) to further examine how we commemorate people from the past. Important questions to ask students to include are: When was the sculpture created? Why was it created or commissioned? Where was it placed? Was it moved or removed recently? Do people visit it?After Houdon created the portrait bust of Washington, he sculpted a full-length marble statue of Washington for the Virginia State Capitol. Ask students to examine both the bust and the statue to compare and contrast. Why did Houdon create the clay bust first? Why did he not use marble on both pieces?
- Ask students to draw a bust of themselves. Instruct them to take into consideration how they want to represent themselves and what features are important for them to include.
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