Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Rush to Thomas Jefferson, 4 July 1815

From William Rush

Philadelphia, July 4th, 1815.


I take the freedom to address you on the subject of the immortal Washington; a figure of whom, after much labour and study, I have executed, which gives general satisfaction, more particularly so to those who were intimately acquainted with him; and I am authorized to say, that Judge Washington has given his highest approbation of the work, especially as to the fidelity of the likeness. It is my intention, if liberally encouraged, to furnish Plaister Casts from the original Statue; a description of which, with the terms, are hereto annexed, in the form of a subscription paper.

Should this effort to perpetuate the form of an individual so deservedly beloved, meet your approbation, permit me to solicit your interposition in recommending it to public notice and patronage. In doing so, you will much oblige, Sir,

Your very humble servant,

Wm. Rush.

Printed circular (DLC); at head of text: “circular”; addressed in an unidentified hand: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Virginia”; franked; postmarked Philadelphia, 2 Aug.; endorsed by TJ as a “Circular” received 9 Aug. 1815 and so recorded in SJL; on a single sheet folded to form four pages, with letter on p. 1, enclosure on p. 3, and address on p. 4. Enclosure: Rush’s Description of his Statue of George Washington and Proposal to Sell Casts of It, undated broadside indicating that the statue depicts Washington “in the act of addressing. The head is uncovered, looking easily to the left. The whole length of the figure is six feet one inch. The upper part of the body is inclining to the right, resting with his right arm on part of the shaft of a column, and a scroll in his right hand. The left arm resting on his hip, which is thrown out considerably, for the support of the figure, which rests upon the left leg. The right foot is advanced. The Costume is modern, and of the civil character, excepting the exterior, which is something of a flowing Grecian Mantle, giving fulness and grace to the outline: it covers his left shoulder and arm. Part of it is taken up by the left hand, the remainder falls on the lower part of the body, left thigh, and leg; it also covers the back of the figure, and part of the pedestal”; offering casts in plaster of paris at a cost of $200, “delivered at Philadelphia”; and stating that production will commence as soon as twenty casts are ordered.

Rush’s original statue of George Washington, carved in pine, is at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia. Rush received only two orders for the full-size casts and instead executed smaller terracotta busts that he exhibited in 1817 (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, William Rush, American Sculptor [1982], 145–7, 152–4).

Index Entries

  • Rush, William; letter from search
  • Rush, William; sculpture of G. Washington by search
  • sculpture; of G. Washington search
  • Washington, Bushrod; and sculpture of G. Washington search
  • Washington, George; sculpture of search