WASHINGTON, George

(b. Virginia, 1732 – d. Virginia, 1799)
General, Continental Army, War for Independence
First president of the United States 1789–1797

By unknown sculptor. Possibly modeled ca. 1800–1810 after an original plaster by Christian Gullagher at Christ Church, Boston

Marble, 24 x 20 x 11 in.

Presumed to be a purchase, ca. 1811. Resolves June 25, 1811.

The marble bust of George Washington is the first art object acquired for the new Bulfinch State House. A receipt in the Massachusetts State Archives, issued in 1811 from the Commonwealth to I. P. Davis for "a marble bust of Washington," is believed to reference this sculpture. (65 Roll Acct. no 1842). It was noted in Resolves of June 25, 1811 that the bust was intended for Representatives Hall.

First placed on display in the former House Chamber, the bust was installed in a staircase niche leading to the old "Green Room" (west of the Senate Chamber—above the executive offices), and then in one of the new niches that was constructed around the perimeter of Doric Hall in 1868. It remained there until 1898 when it was placed in the Senate Chamber.

Although acquired as a memorial to the President, the bust was for some time identified as a likeness of Samuel Adams until a small commission was appointed in 1890 to look into its authenticity. Research by the three-person panel led them to reaffirm the identification as that of Washington, based on its similarity to another bust of the president at Christ Church, Boston, which was modeled after a plaster bust by Christian Gullagher.

bust of WASHINGTON, George