John Quincy Adams……. Old Man Eloquent Comes To Life
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 , 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
Life masks of John Quincy Adams Source: Cheryl A. Daniel, with special thanks to Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown N.Y.
John Quincy Adams life mask by J.I. Browere. 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 Used By Permission
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.”3John 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.
Life mask reconstruction of John Quincy Adams.
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.
Life mask reconstruction of John Quincy Adams in his later years.
The life mask compared with known photographs of Adams.
1) 1825 Life Mask Reconstruction 2) 1843 Photograph 3) 1843 Photograph 4) Side Profile, date unknown 5) 1825 Life Mask
John Quincy Adams Life Mask Facial Animation
What did the Founding Fathers really look like? Can we know for certain?
Sources & References:
1 Bridget 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 Used By Permission