By Anne Leader

Italian neoclassical sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi was born on 4 July 1751 in Rome. The son of a goldsmith, he studied in Rome before embarking on a career abroad. He worked in London, Vienna, Philadelphia, and Paris, where he died in 1801. He is best known for his portraits of American Revolutionary heroes, including portraits of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. His portrait of Washington was admired by contemporaries as the most lifelike image of the first president. Following neoclassical taste, Washington’s recognizable face is set atop a bust draped like a Roman military hero. Ceracchi had hoped to win a commission to make a large monument dedicated to American liberty, but the project never came to fruition.

George Washington, 1795, marble. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of John L. Cadwalader, 1914

Alexander Hamilton, 1794, marble. Bentonville: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art 

Alexander Hamilton, 1794, plaster.  New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Accession

John Trumbull, Portrait of Giuseppe Ceracchi, 1792, oil on wood. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1936

Muse of Sculpture (Portrait of Anne Seymour Damer), 1779, marble. London: The British Museum, Gift of Lord Frederick Campbell

Bust of John Jay, ca. 1792. Washington, DC: US Supreme Court

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