Thomas Crawford trained in woodwork before he learned to sculpt marble in New York. In 1835 he moved to Rome, where he apprenticed to the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. He worked primarily on portrait busts of individuals until he was asked by United States Senator Charles Sumner to create a large sculpture for the Boston Athenaeum. Crawford’s reputation increased significantly after this, and he often traveled back to the United States to accept commissions and compete in design competitions. Among other commissions, Crawford created the bronze equestrian George Washington monument in Richmond, Virginia, and four sculptures in the United States Capitol, including the pediment over the east entrance to the Senate and the figure Freedom surmounting the dome.