24 5/16 x 13 3/4 x 9 3/16 in. (61.7 x 35 x 23.3 cm) (integral base)
Born in Syracuse, New York, Clark Mills moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1837 to work as a plasterer. There, he learned the craft of making life masks and this, in turn, led him to create his first sculpted portrait in the round, this bust of the congressman and US vice-president John C. Calhoun. By the time Mills took his portrait, Calhoun’s reputation as the South’s fiercest orator, champion of states’ rights, and “war hawk” was well established. Mills convincingly captured these elements of Calhoun’s personality in his facial expression, the realism of which contrasts with the typically neoclassical suggestion of nudity.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.