Statesmen, Heroes, Soldiers, Spies: Lifemasks of Celebrated Americans

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Bust of Thomas Jefferson, by John H. I. Browere. Third President of the United States, Age 82. Cast October 15, 1825, at Monticello, Virginia. Gift of Stephen C. Clark. Collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.

In the early 1800s the artist John Henri Isaac Browere aspired to create a portrait gallery of national heroes. Through a process of casting the faces of living people, Browere made lifemasks of famous men and women. Browere worked nearly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and captured the likenesses of the Revolutionary War generation just as age and time were taking their toll. While the technique for making lifemasks dates back to the time of the Pharaohs, Browere's great success was due to his invention of a quick drying, lighter plaster that did not flatten his subject's features. Twenty-one of the surviving plasters were replicated in bronze in 1940.

This traveling exhibition of 18 bronze busts and 3 plaster busts is available beginning in 2009. If you have an interest in hosting this exhibition, please contact the Director of Exhibitions, Michelle Murdock at (607) 547-1407 or email.