The Face of Alexander Hamilton
“In 1896, The Atlantic Monthly published an article titled “Reminiscences of Mrs. Alexander Hamilton.” The anonymous author recalled spending the summer of 1852 with Hamilton’s widow, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (1757–1854), when he or she was 13 years old and Mrs. Hamilton was 95. The author wrote:“I remember nothing more distinctly than…a marble bust of Hamilton standing on its pedestal in a draped corner. That bust I can never forget, for the old lady always paused before it in her tour of the rooms, and leaning on her cane, gazed and gazed, as if she could never be satisfied.”1
Jump ahead over a century, and the identical bust that once captivated Eliza's gaze can now be found on display in the galleries at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. Imagine standing in Eliza's shoes while admiring the marble bust that helped her cherish Hamilton's memory. Although the sculpture was initially intended to honor its subject during his lifetime, his sudden death transformed it into a timeless memorial.
In 1794, Giuseppe Ceracchi, an Italian sculptor, created the marble bust of Hamilton in the style of a Roman Senator. Ceracchi also crafted several replicas of the bust using both marble and plaster. This bust went on to serve as a model for various sculptures and paintings. Prior to creating the marble version, Ceracchi had fashioned a terracotta model of Hamilton from life around 1791-92. After receiving the clay model, he eagerly set to work on the marble version in Rome. In a letter to Hamilton written in July 1792, Ceracchi expressed his impatience to receive the clay model, which he had fashioned to capture Hamilton's "witty and significant physiognomy." Ceracchi completed the marble bust in 1794 and delivered it to Hamilton, although payment for his work did not come until later. Hamilton paid $620 for the bust on March 3, 1796, which he described in his cash-book as a sum paid "through delicacy" upon Ceracchi's request and as a favor to him.
The Ceracchi bust is believed to be the most accurate depiction of Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton Facial Reconstruction
The Photoshop reconstruction features his reddish-brown hair without any powdering and his beautiful blue eyes.
The Faces of Alexander Hamilton Video
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Sources & References:
1Satisfied: Giuseppe Ceracchi’s Bust of Alexander Hamilton, https://crystalbridges.org/blog/satisfied-giuseppe-caracchis-bust-of-alexander-hamilton/