Luigi Persico (1791–1860)
21 1/8 x 15 7/8 x 9 1/16 in. (53.6 x 40.3 x 23 cm)
A native of Naples, Italy, Luigi Persico came to the United States in the late 1810s looking for work. America had yet to produce its own professional sculptors and so Persico’s timing was excellent. With the help of Senator James Buchanan and President John Quincy Adams, he received several coveted commissions for sculptures for the exterior of the new United States Capitol building. He also modeled busts of the rich and famous including President Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette. For his bust of the wealthy Philadelphia financier Nicholas Biddle, Persico used the classical herm style which calls for a severe vertical truncation on all four sides of the bust and an implication of nudity, seen here in the figure’s upper chest.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.
Gift of Issac P. Davis, 1838