Busts of the Mercantile Wednesday- William Henry Harrison

img_0789.JPGThe best bust in the collection is the portrait in marble of William Henry Harrison by Shobal Clevenger.  Like the Powers Washington, the Clevenger Harrison was executed in Italy from Clevenger’s clay original.  Whether Clevenger actually handled the marble rather than leaving it to the dazzlingly capable Italian craftsman carry out is unclear.  What is clear is that the work is a crisp and masterly and an accurate portrait of the city’s briefest president, the Virginia aristocrat who campaigned as a Log Cabin Whig.  Clevenger was one of the Cincinnati sculptors backed by Nicholas Longworth.  A contemporary of Hiram Powers, he died in his twenties. Had he lived, he would probably have given Powers a run for the title of Greatest American Sculptor that Powers had draped on him.  Speaking of drapes, Old Tippecanoe is wearing one of those vaguely Roman togatops that turn up on some of the most hilariously inappropriate American politicians.  It is unlikely that he wore anything so flimsy, no matter how august, to that swearing-in where he caught the epic case of the grippe that did him in so swiftly.

 -Nemo Wolfe

You can find more BOTM by clicking HERE.

Published in: on March 22, 2007 at 10:48 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. It is a well known fact that this is my favorite bust in the collection. The expression on WHH’s face is exactly like the one you see on an old man who has just come to the slow and painful realization that the cashier is correct about his coupons being expired.

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