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Model for Seated Statue of James Smithson

1904 Gutzon Borglum Born: Bear Lake, Idaho 1867 Died: Chicago, Illinois 1941 painted plaster 27 1/8 x 10 1/8 x 11 1/2 in. (68.9 x 25.7 x 29.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1967.116 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 20B

Luce Center Quote

“Individuality in art . . . is born of sincerity . . . It does not seek to be different; it does seek to be itself---and reverence for our art will ever secure for the whole the sense of good taste.” Gutzon Borglum, 1908

Luce Center Label

In December 1903, Alexander Graham Bell, a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, asked Gutzon Borglum to submit plans for a memorial honoring the institution’s founder. Borglum carefully researched James Smithson’s life before designing a miniature version of the proposed large-scale work. Rather than represent the scientist in a formal pose, he decided to show Smithson seated comfortably as if in the midst of a casual conversation. Not until October of the following year did he present his model to Bell. Borglum’s plan for a finished sculpture to be placed in front of the Smithsonian was never realized and only the model remains as a record of the intended monument.


Monument - statue - Smithson

Occupation - other - philanthropist

Portrait male - Smithson, James - full length

Study - sculpture model


metal - bronze


About Gutzon Borglum

Born: Bear Lake, Idaho 1867 Died: Chicago, Illinois 1941

More works in the collection by
Gutzon Borglum