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Busts of Washington Irving

Bust of Washington Irving

in Irvington, NY
Wikipedia image by Beyond My Ken

Bust of Washington Irving
, c. 1836
A different bust in the National Portrait Gallery


Washington Irving -- Sculpture Digital ID: 1264733. New York Public Library

Bust by W. G. Jackman from a Bust by Ball Hughes
Engraving from
New York Public Library
NYPL Digital Gallery

    Washington Irving (1783-1859) was a famous author and wrote The legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, among many other books.  He named his home in Tarrytown, NY, " Sunnyside" in 1841.  Ball Hughes later named his home on School St. in Dorchester, MA, "Sunnyside." 

    According to James-Gadzinski and Cunningham (1979), Ball Hughes may have met Irving when they both lived in London.  "The bust is idealized and draped with the ubiquitous toga in the neoclassical style that Hughes learned from Edward Hodges Baily in London."

    Hughes made many plaster casts which sold for fifteen dollars each according to the New York Mirror, September 10, 1836, p. 83.  This was at a time when Hiram Powers was getting $150 or $200 for his work according to Craven (1984).

    The first two examples above do not appear to be the same that was given to the Pennsylvania Academy in 1861 by the painter Thomas Sully, a friend of Irving.  Sully was a director of the Academy for many years according to James-Gadzinski and Cunningham (1979).  The bust pictured in their book has a toga similar to the third example above by British engraver W. G. Jackman who emigrated to the U.S. in 1841.

    Craven reports that examples are located at Irving's Tarrytown, NY home, the Pennsylvania Academy, and the Boston Athenaeum.

    The Smithsonian SIRIS database lists 13 copies including a marble at the New York Public Library and plaster busts at the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Public Library, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
    See an expandable image from National Portrait Gallery: Permanent Collection Illustrated Checklist, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press, 1987, pg.146 on  SIRIS.


American Sculpture in the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts by Susan James-Gadzinski and Mary Mullen Cunningham. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1997, pp. 30-31.

Sculpture in America by Wayne Craven. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1968 & 1984, p.74.

updated 3/26/2013

For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2013
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