Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Cary Nicholas, 15 March 1818

To Wilson Cary Nicholas

Monticello Mar. 15. 18.

Dear Sir.

If I could refuse you any thing, it would be the request in your’s of the 9th to submit to the operation of having my bust taken. of all operations it is the most revolting, whether you stand, as was Ciracchi’s method, or lie down and have your face plaistered over with gypsum,1 as was Houdon’s or sit as with the painters. I have no doubt of mr Coffee’s talents from what you say of him; and yet I do not expect America will in a century to come see a superior to Ciracchi for indeed he had no superior but Canove. and when a thing has been once well done, as in sculpture by Ciracchi, in painting by Stewart, it is better to have copies from good originals, than new originals of inferior order. however, dear Sir, as you interest yourself for mr Coffee, be so good as to offer him my respects and to assure him I shall recieve him with perfect welcome, and become his Mannequin as long as he pleases. I must only observe that I set out for Bedford about the 10th of April and shall be absent a month. all times before or after that interval will be perfectly equal to me. ever & affectionately your’s

Th: Jefferson

RC (Philip D. Sang, Chicago, 1960); at foot of text: “Colo W. C. Nicholas”; endorsed by Nicholas. PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Daniel Brent to TJ, 23 Jan. 1818; damaged at seal, with part of one word rewritten by TJ; signature faint; endorsed by TJ.

stewart: Gilbert Stuart.

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Canova, Antonio; Italian sculptor search
  • Ceracchi, Giuseppe; bust of TJ by search
  • Ceracchi, Giuseppe; TJ on search
  • Coffee, William John; terra-cotta busts by search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); used by sculptors search
  • Houdon, Jean Antoine; bust of TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Ceracchi’s bust search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; J. Houdon’s bust search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; W. J. Coffee’s terra-cotta bust search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and W. J. Coffee search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters to search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visits to search
  • sculpture; use of gypsum in search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; portraits of TJ by search