One of the reasons the Library has as many busts as it does is that Nicholas Longworth, Cincinnati’s helpful early millionaire, backed a number of local artists, particularly sculptors, with money. Joel Hart, Shobal Clevenger, and Hiram Powers got in on the largesse, and they’re all represented here. Odd, given that, that the Library’s bust of Longworth is unsigned. One would think it would have to be by one of the locals, and it is more than slightly similar to the marble Powers up at the Cincinnati Art Museum, but the Powers experts gave it one of those discouraging shakes of the curatorial head. Art in the early nineteenth century, was not subject to the moist eyed reverence rendered in these times. Back then it was, “You like that? Here’s a copy.” All very casual and pleasantly commercial. But the Mercantile Longworth seems to be a copy of a copy and, like a Xerox of a Xerox, not quite right. Oh, well. We like it. It’s been purposely put at the top of the highest bookcase so Mr. L. can smile down on his protégés. He’s also close to A. Lincoln, who famously dropped in unannounced at Belmont.
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