George Washington, Jean Antoine Houdon, Sculptor: A Brief History of the Most Famous Sculpture Created of America's Immortal Patriot, Issued to Commemorate the Bicentennial of His Birth, 1732-1932

By Gorham Manufacturing Company | Go to book overview

A STORY OF AMERICA'S MOST PRECIOUS RECORD
OF THE LIVING WASHINGTON

ON June 22, 1784, the Virginia Legislature passed a resolution which, though brief, was destined to become famous in our history. It was also to result in making a household word in America of the name of one of the world's greatest sculptors. The resolution read:

"That the Executive be requested to take measures for procuring a statue of General Washington, to be of the finest marble and the best workmanship..."

It was further resolved that an inscription be placed on the pedestal, in the words of Madison:

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
HAVE CAUSED THIS STATUE TO BE ERECTED
AS A MONUMENT OF AFFECTION AND GRATITUDE TO
GEORGE WASHINGTON;
WHO,
UNITING TO THE ENDOWMENTS OF THE HERO THE VIRTUES OF THE PATRIOT
AND EXERTING BOTH IN ESTABLISHING THE LIBERTIES OF HIS COUNTRY,
HAS RENDERED HIS NAME DEAR TO HIS FELLOW CITIZENS
AND GIVEN THE WORLD AN IMMORTAL EXAMPLE
OF TRUE GLORY

Nearly a century and a half have elapsed since then, and still the statue of our First Patriot by Jean Antoine Houdon is the one unquestionably authentic sculpture to which historians, educators and artists make pilgrimage in order to understand the man Washington. For, in the

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