George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Wright, 1 September 1784

From Joseph Wright

Phila. Septr 1st 84

J. Wrights respectful Compliments await Genrl Washington, and hopes he will not recollect how Long a Time has elapsed since this was to have been sent; as it was owing to its requiring some Alterations and there was no Bronze (the Stuff with which it is Covered) in America at that Time, He Begs Leave to assure Mrs Washington, that he has not forgot his Promise respecting the Large Bust, but hopes she will be as kind in excusing his delay, as she has been generous in her Frienship, and Promoting his Attempt.1


1GW wrote Wright on 30 Jan. 1785 that this card along with the bust did not arrive until December. During the summer of 1784 Wright worked on a full-size bust of GW for Congress as well as on the small one for GW. Under the terms of an act of Congress of 7 Aug. 1783 providing for a statue of GW, Wright had been commissioned to “take a resemblance” of the General. The

“resemblance” for Congress was cast in plaster, and on 5 Dec. 1784 Wright wrote Charles Thomson that he had “Compleated the Bust of his Excellency General Washington, without any further accident.” He also told Thomson that for the sake of the public he had “with permission of the President, put it up in the Council room [in Philadelphia], in order that they may be gratified in Viewing it” (DNA:PCC, item 78). On 20 Jan. 1785, Wright presented Congress with a charge of fifty guineas for the completed work. See Wright to Charles Thomson, 20 Jan. and 28 Mar. 1785, and Thomson’s report to Congress of 1 April, DNA:PCC, item 19. For the provenance and photographs of the busts of GW by Joseph Wright, see Fabian, Wright, description begins Monroe H. Fabian. Joseph Wright: American Artist, 1756–1793. Washington, D.C., 1985. description ends 108–14.

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