Model for Seated Statue of James Smithson

  • Gutzon Borglum, Model for Seated Statue of James Smithson, 1904, painted plaster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1967.116

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.

Luce Object 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

Model for Seated Statue of James Smithson
27 1/8 x 10 1/8 x 11 1/2 in. (68.9 x 25.7 x 29.2 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
painted plaster
  • Study – sculpture model
  • Portrait male – Smithson, James – full length
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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