The Old Print Shop

Washington. To Jared Sparks, the Historian of Washington and Editor of his Writings. J.S. Crawford D.D.D.

  • ARTIST: Thomas Crawford

  • MEDIUM: Lithograph, printed chine-colle.

    DATE: 1844.

  • EDITION SIZE: Vignette, 12 x 5 1/2" (30.5 x 14 cm) On sheet, 20 1/4 x 14 1/2" (51.7 x 37 cm)

  • DESCRIPTION: An image of a statue of George Washington, dedicated to Jared Sparks, that was never sculpted.<br><br> Crawford Sculp. L. Camia Lith. Rome 1844 Lith. Battustolli.<br><br> Thomas Crawford (1813 – 1857)<br><br> One of the leading 19th-century American neoclassical sculptors, “Thomas Crawford was the only one of the first generation of American neoclassical sculptors to become known as master of public statuary.” (Tolles, 34) He was born in New York City and spent most of his career in Rome, Italy with only brief trips to the United States including in 1844, 1849, and 1856.<br><br> He began his career working for the stone-cutting firm of Frazee and Launitz, owned by John Frazee and Robert E. Launitz, two individuals who would have an impact on Crawford’s career. Frazee was one of America’s first artists to work successfully in the classical* tradition, and Launitz introduced Crawford to his teacher, Bertel Thorwaldsen, then a famous Danish sculptor. In late 1835, Crawford sailed from New York City to Rome, with a letter of introduction from Launitz to Thorwaldsen. Crawford became his American pupil, and established a studio in Rome, which became a popular place to visit by American tourists. Crawford received many commissions for portrait busts, including political figure Charles Sumner, who became his friend and strongest supporter. Crawford’s bust of Sumner brought praise and along with it other commissions, which allowed him to be challenged with more idealism as subject matter. One of these pieces was Orpheus, Crawford’s first major neoclassical conception. It was a full-length ideal work, and received much praise.<br><br> Sumner persuaded a group of wealthy patrons to raise money to have it carved in marble and then acquire it for the Boston Athenaeum. So successful was Orpheus in its combination of lofty theme and purity of revived classical aesthetic that Crawford was honored by a small sculpture exhibition at the Athenaeum, the first one-man exhibition of the work of an American sculptor. Orpheus’ installation brought Crawford fame equal to that of his well-known contemporaries working in Florence, Horatio Greenough and Hiram Powers. It also brought him commissions, not only for the portraiture work but for sculptures with lofty, idealized themes. Crawford was also a prolific sculptor of public monuments. In 1844, Crawford left Rome for New York City, marrying his wife, Lou, and trying unsuccessfully to get Congress to commission an equestrian George Washington. But after a year, the couple returned to Rome, where he continued to create portrait busts, idealistic works, and at least one historically themed work, Dying Mexican Princess. However, in 1849, Crawford won a competition to do an equestrian statue of George Washington for the city of Richmond, Virginia.<br><br> His most noted sculpture is now on the top of the United States Capitol dome, The Statue of Freedom, a colossal bronze standing 19 1/2 feet high and weighing 7 1/2 tons,it has stood overlooking Washington, D.C., since 1863.<br><br> Source: Baigell, Matthew, Dictionary of American Art Thayer Tolles, Editor, American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art Biography from the Archives of AskART<br><br> Jared Sparks "American Plutarch." Sparks tirelessly collected the papers of America's founders including the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He realized the importance of American history for future generations. His inspiring research included the beginnings of American biography with his collection of biographical information on the leaders of America. His works included: The Writings of George Washington (1834-1838), The Library of American Biography (1834-1838), The Works of Benjamin Franklin (1836-1840), and as editor of the North American Review (1824-1831)


  • CONDITION: Good condition save for soft crease in lower right. B/W.


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