Horatio Greenough

As you know, I’m particularly interested in Colonel Thorn’s patronnage of the Arts. Being a writer (now especially in the age of Covid 19), I know how hard it is to maintain a creative career. So I’m fascinated by how culture is impacted by patrons enabling artists to survive.

Horatio Greenough is remembered for a few particularly stunning scultpures including a greek-inspired rendition of George Washington as Zeus. He is also considered to be the first American artist to make a career from scultpure. However, his other well known sculptures depicted what we now see as rascist and sexist sentiments. Discovery and The Rescue were removed from public display in 1958, and Discovery was later dropped and shattered when being moved by crane.

His connection with Colonel Thorn was again one of patronage, where Thorn is recorded as having comissioned Greenough to create a bust of a friend’s (Mr Griffin) son and having it shipped to him.

"I have no news from Government, no accounts 
of the arrival of my group, " no nothing " ! 
I heard the other day from Mr. Griffin, of 
New York, the bust of whose son I mod- 
elled last winter from a print and a mask. 
I sent him one in marble, by order of Colo- 
nel Thorn ; and as I have a second one to 
make, was anxious to know if I could im- 
prove it. He answered that he could sug- 
gest no alterations whatever."

Amusingly, in Greenough’s Letters he notes that Nathaniel Willis‘s brother, Richard (Storrs Willis), a composer of hymm music, “was apparently flirting with one of the five daughters of Col. Herman Thorn, famous for their beauty and wealth.” It would be interesting to know which one!

Horatio Greenough portrait by  Rembrandt Peale, 1829

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