John Caldwell Calhoun

  • Hiram Powers, John Caldwell Calhoun, modeled 1836, plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson, 1968.155.72

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Hiram Powers modeled this bust of John Caldwell Calhoun shortly after the artist arrived in Washington. Senator Calhoun was recognized as one of the most important Southerners in Washington, having served as secretary of war and vice president, and Powers felt it would be beneficial to his career to do the portrait. The bust was so successful that the state of South Carolina raised the money for a full-length statue of Calhoun. The senator helped greatly in securing this commission for Powers, writing that the sculptor’s skill was “unsurpassed.”

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“He has a noble head, and his eyes seem to burn in their sockets with all the surpassing relentlessness and vigour of his soul.” Hiram Powers, 1835, in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, 1989-91

John Caldwell Calhoun
modeled 1836
24 1/8 x 18 3/8 x 13 7/8 in. (61.2 x 46.7 x 35.3 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums Description
  • Occupation – political
  • Portrait male – Calhoun, John C. – bust
  • Study – sculpture model
  • Dress – historic – classical dress
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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