James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Giuseppe Ceracchi, [ca. 11 May] 1795

From Giuseppe Ceracchi

[ca. 11 May 1795]


Bein upon my departure for Europe I take the Liberty to draw upon you the somme of 250. Dollars in favour of Mr George Meade, which you will be pluesed to pay, for the price of Your medallion in alabaster Originaly performed by me.1

In another I shal explane the cause of my living so soon thi Country while with consideration I am Sir Yor. Most Obt Sert

Jos Ceracchi

I have kept the above bill2 & will be obliged to you to remit me the Amt. Yours respectfuly

Geo Meade

RC (PHC). Postscript in Meade’s hand and addressed by him to JM in Virginia. Postmarked “11 Ma.” Docketed by JM.

1During his first visit to America, 1791–92, Ceracchi modeled a terra-cotta relief profile of JM, and in 1794 he carved an alabaster portrait based on the terracotta model. Some thirty-six prominent Americans—including JM, Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton—sat for Ceracchi with the understanding that the portraits were for the artist’s use. When Elias Boudinot made some unflattering remarks about Ceracchi’s project for a monument commemorating the American Revolution, the sculptor resolved to return to Europe and presented bills to the sitters, implying that they had commissioned the works. They grumbled about Ceracchi’s tactics but paid for the portraits. According to JM, “His drafts were not the effect of avarice, but of his wants, all his resources having been exhausted in the tedious pursuit of his object.” In 1801 Ceracchi was executed after being implicated in an assassination attempt against Napoleon (Ulysse Desportes, “Ceracchi’s Medallion Portrait of James Madison,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, 24 [1963]: 108, 112, 119; Ceracchi to JM, 21 Mar. 1795, PJM description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (1 vol. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 15:489–90 and n. 1; Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to Ceracchi, 9 Mar. 1795, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , 34:136–39; Ceracchi to Hamilton, 16 July 1792, Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , 12:36–37 and n. 2; JM to George Tucker, 30 Apr. 1830, Madison, Letters [Cong. ed.] description begins [William C. Rives and Philip R. Fendall, eds.], Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (published by order of Congress; 4 vols.; Philadelphia, 1865). description ends , 4:71).

2A similar bill, dated 8 May 1795 (PHi), is printed in Desportes, “Ceracchi’s Medallion Portrait of James Madison,” p. 117.

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