John Quincy Adams

Artist

Horatio Greenough (American 1805–1852)

Date

1828–1829

Medium

Marble

Dimensions

Marble, 23 x 14 x 8 1/2 in. (58.4 x 35.7 x 21.7 cm)

Description

The Boston-born sculptor Horatio Greenough here pays homage to the past by carving President John Quincy Adams’s otherwise realistic head in such a way that it implies nudity and terminates in the classical herm manner with its squared off , unadorned sides. The sculptor then emphasizes his classical intentions by inscribing the marble with his own name—in Greek. Using these devices allowed the neoclassical sculptor to relate his contemporary subject—in this case, the President of the United States—with the high ideals, erudition, and democratic values of the ancient world.

Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson for the Boston Athenæum.

Inscription

Inscribed at right: ΓΡΗΝΩ / ΕΙΙ [Greenough / made]

Credit Line

Athenæum purchase, 1829

Object Number

UH169