[image-1] For the first time since the Gibbes Museum of Art received Giuseppe Ceracchi’s George Washington sculpture in 1917, the museum has loaned out the famous piece to The Frick Collection on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, to be featured as part of the exhibition, Canova’s George Washington. According to The Frick this exhibition “examines the history of acclaimed sculptor Antonio Canova’s lost masterpiece, a full-length statue of George Washington depicted in ancient Roman garb, drafting his farewell address to the states.”
The exhibition prominently features Ceracchi’s bust of Washington; according to the Gibbes’ curator of collections Sara Arnold, the bust is “noted for its significant influence on Antonio Canova’s full-length statue of George Washington commissioned in 1816 by the North Carolina State House in Raleigh.”
Arnold continues, “The Frick’s exhibition examines the history of acclaimed sculptor Antonio Canova’s lost masterpiece, including Thomas Jefferson’s role in urging the selection of Canova and determining key aspects of the statue such as using Ceracchi’s version as a model. Ceracchi is one of only two sculptors known to have taken a portrait of Washington from life.”
Ceracchi’s bust of Washington first made its way to Charleston when collector John Izard Middleton purchased it in 1820; it lived at Middleton Place for nearly a century (surviving the 1865 fire) and was donated to the Gibbes in the 20th century.