The Life Mask Face of John Quincy Adams – A Photoshop Reconstruction

John Quincy Adams Life Mask

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John Quincy Adams……. Old Man Eloquent Comes To Life

Intro….

6th U. S. President John Quincy is perhaps my favorite president, though most of his accomplishments were after his presidency, particularly against slavery. Adams once reportedly stated, “The four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the presidency.” As a congressman, Adams said that he took delight in the fact that southerners would forever remember him as “the acutest, the astutest, the archest enemy of southern slavery that ever existed.”

It has been suggested that John Quincy Adams had the highest I.Q. of any U.S. president. Dean Simonton, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, estimated his I.Q. score at 175.1 Adams spoke and wrote seven languages by the age of ten. Adams also became a leading force for the promotion of science. As president, he had proposed a national observatory, which did not win much support. Adams became Congress’s primary supporter of the future Smithsonian Institution. He also translated a copy of the New Testament Bible from Greek to English.

Quite a resume for “Old Man Eloquent.”

The Life Mask

John Henri Isaac Browere made the plaster cast of John Quincy Adams while he was President in 1825.

“Washington City, October [28], 1825.

The president requests me to state to Mr. Browere that he will be able to give him two hours tomorrow morning at seven o’clock at his (Mr. Browere’s) rooms on Pennsylvania Avenue. He is so much engaged at present that this is the only time he can conveniently spare for the purpose of your executing his portrait bust from life.

C. F. Adams.”2

John Quincy Adams Life Mask
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 1940, J.H. Browere & Roman Bronze Works, bronze, H: 29 x W: 23 x D: 11.5 in., Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark. N0202.1961. Photograph by Richard Walker

J. I. Browere’s “work achieved a stark realism uncommon in that day. His plaster busts showed the age-lined brow, the pock-marked face; his subjects appeared as they were, not as artists generally portrayed them. His life masks were, and remain, the most authentic likenesses of some historic figures who lived in a day before photography provided more easily obtained but similarly uncompromising portraits.”3

John Quincy Adams Comes to Life

“Adams was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds. He had penetrating black eyes.” 4

At the time of his life mask casting, Adams was 58 years old. The reconstruction below shows Adams as he appeared when he was President with brown hair and no sideburns, or mutton chops as they were called in his time.

John Quincy Adams life mask
Life mask reconstruction of John Quincy Adams.

The painting of Adams below by Gilbert Stuart just two years later in 1828 shows him with brown hair and no sideburns. Hopefully, it is safe the conclude that my reconstruction is close to his actual likeness.

John Quincy Adams Painting
1828 portrait (detail) of John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully. (Harvard University Portrait Collection, Bequest of Ward Nicholas Boylston to Harvard College.) Source: Library of America

The Later Years

The reconstruction below shows the same life mask of Adams as he appeared later in life with his signature mutton chops and gray hair.

John Quincy Adams Life Mask
Life mask reconstruction of John Quincy Adams showing his appearance later in life

Portrait Comparisons

The life mask compared with known photographs of Adams.

John Quincy Adams Portrait LIfe Mask Comparisons
1) 1825 Life Mask Reconstruction 2) 1843 Photograph 3) 1843 Photograph 4) Side Profile, date unknown 5) 1825 Life Mask

See Part II

The Life Mask Face of John Quincy Adams – A Photoshop Reconstruction Part II

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Sources & References:
1Bridget McCusker “The 13 Presidents with the Highest IQ Scores” Readers Digest. https://www.rd.com/culture/presidents-with-the-highest-iq-scores/
2,3Charles Henry Hart. “The Project Gutenberg EBook of Browere’s Life Masks of Great Americans” Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899 https://www.gutenberg.org/files/51890/51890-h/51890-h.htm (Public Domain)
4John Quincy Adams “The Presidential ham” http://presidentialham.com/u-s-presidents/john-quincy-adams-with-ham/

Original Life Mask Image Source: John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 1940, J.H. Browere & Roman Bronze Works, bronze, H: 29 x W: 23 x D: 11.5 in., Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark. N0202.1961. Photograph by Richard Walker

Page Updated 8/5/2020

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2 thoughts on “The Life Mask Face of John Quincy Adams – A Photoshop Reconstruction

  1. Very well done Cheryl. My opinion might be biased since my passion and hobby is John Quincy Adams, but it is truly a remarkable image. Your graphics ability bring JQA to life. You are making history with what you are doing, I for one congratulate you, and thank you.
    I am Madame, your most humble, and obedient servant.
    Sincerely, Vince

    1. Vince, Thank you for the kind words. It was a great pleasure bringing Mr. Adams to life. I hope that through imagery, more people will be interested in history and the characters who shaped it.

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