This engraving depicts the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova’s massive seated statue of George Washington in Roman guise, which was commissioned by the North Carolina General Assembly, and executed in Canova’s studio in Rome between 1817 and 1821. The author of a “Letter from a Young American in Italy,” which appeared in Philadelphia’s National Recorder in 1819, described the statue, remarking, “He is sitting with a pen in his hand, and is supposed to have just finished his farewell address; but we all agreed, that he has more the expression and character of a painter, with his port folio, just preparing to take a sketch of some object before him.” Costing more than $11,000 (a huge sum for a state whose total annual budget was only about $90,000 at that time), the sculpture was installed in the rotunda of the State House in Raleigh on Christmas Eve 1821, where it remained until it was destroyed by fire a decade later. In 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette, Washington’s close friend and brother in arms, saw the statue and approved of the “exquisite workmanship of the whole,” but privately believed the sculpture failed to capture Washington’s true likeness. An 1840 lithograph depicts Lafayette’s visit to the State House, accompanied by Betsey Haywood, daughter of State Treasurer John Haywood, his host. While the two admire the monument, a recumbent boy—pen in hand—draws on its pedestal, emulating Washington’s actions.
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- Titles Statue of George Washington (Proper)
- Artist After a drawing by, Giovanni Tognoli, Italy, 1786 - 1862 / Engraved by, Angelo Bertini, Italy, born 1783 - unknown death date / From the original sculpture by, Antonio Canova, Italy, 1757 - 1822
- Medium engraving
- Dimensions sheet: 19 15/16 × 14 3/8 in. (50.6 × 36.5 cm) plate: 17 13/16 × 12 3/4 in. (45.2 × 32.4 cm) image: 11 3/8 × 9 13/16 in. (28.9 × 24.9 cm) mat: 24 × 20 in. (61 × 50.8 cm)
- Credit Line Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1953.42
- Work Type print
- Classification Prints
- Signature Collector's stamp, verso, center, in black ink: [coat of arms, surrounded by] STÆDTISCHES MUSEUM ZU LEIPZIG [inside circle, Lugt 1669e] Collector's stamp, verso, lower center, in black ink: [indecipherable word] / v. / Museum / d. b. k. / LEIPZIG [inside circle, Lugt 1669f]
- Marks Collector's stamp, verso, center, in black ink: [coat of arms, surrounded by] STÆDTISCHES MUSEUM ZU LEIPZIG [inside circle, Lugt 1669e] Collector's stamp, verso, lower center, in black ink: [indecipherable word] / v. / Museum / d. b. k. / LEIPZIG [inside circle, Lugt 1669f]
- Inscription Recto, in plate, on tablet: Giorgio Washington / Al Popolo degli Stati Uniti / Amici o Concittadini In plate, below image left, printed in small font: Ant. Canova inv. escòlpi In plate, below image center, printed in small font: G. Tognòli dis. In plate, below image right, printed in small font: Ang. Bertini inc. In plate, below image center, printed in large font: GIORGIO WASHINGTON / Alla grande Nazione degli Stati Uniti di America In plate, bottom right, printed: Antonio Canòva D. D. D. In plate, bottom left, printed: Statua in marmo alquanto màggiore del naturale, destinata ad esser posta nella Sala del Senato di Carolina in America. Above plate right, in pencil: Bottom right corner, in pencil: 4 [inside circle] Verso, lower center, in pencil: f 37743 * / OB Bottom left, in pencil: MK 30202
- Provenance Museum de bildenden Künste, Leipzig, deaccessioned. Dealer M. Knoedler & Co., New York; gift to the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 1953