Alexander Hamilton (Ceracchi)

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Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton by Ceracchi - marble, Crystal Bridges Museum.jpg
ArtistGiuseppe Ceracchi
Year1794 (1794)
MediumWhite marble
SubjectAlexander Hamilton
Dimensions63.5 cm × 35.6 cm × 30.5 cm (25.0 in × 14.0 in × 12.0 in)

Alexander Hamilton is a marble bust portrait of Alexander Hamilton, done in the style of a Roman Senator, by the Italian sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi.[1] Ceracchi also created many replicas, in both marble and plaster. The bust was later used as a model for sculptures and paintings.


Ceracchi created a terracotta model of Hamilton, from life, about 1791–92.[2] This was then sent to Rome, where he created the marble version. As written to Hamilton in July 1792, Ceracchi was "impatient to receive the clay that I had the satisfaction of forming from your witty and significant physiognomy".[3] He returned to deliver the bust to Hamilton in 1794, but did not receive payment until later. On March 3, 1796, Hamilton wrote in his cash book: "for this sum through delicacy paid upon cherachi’s draft for making my bust on his own importunity & as a favour to him $620"[4]

The Hamilton family kept the bust until 1896 when it was bequeathed to the New York Public Library along with the portrait painting of George Washington, The Constable-Hamilton Portrait, by Gilbert Stuart.[5] Both were sold together, as requested by the will, on November 30, 2005 to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for over $8 million.[2]

A copy of the bust is now housed at Hamilton Grange, in New York City. The original is displayed at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.[citation needed]


Ceracchi portrayed Hamilton in the style of a Roman Senator, with wavy hair and bare-chested, wearing a ribbon of the Order of the Cincinnati over his right shoulder.[1][2]


The original work is inscribed on the back in Latin:[5]


This translates to "Executed in Philadelphia and copied in Florence, Executed by Joseph Ceracchi, 1794."[2]


The painter John Trumbull used the bust as model for a series of 1804–08 portraits of Hamilton.[6][7]

The first U.S. Postal Service stamp to honor Hamilton was an 1870 30-cent stamp using this bust as a model.[8]

In 1880, the bust owned by Hamilton's son, John C. Hamilton, was used as a model for the head of the granite statue by Carl Conrads.[9]

At the Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the National Park Service has installed a touch-sceen display that features an avatar modeled after Ceracchi's bust.[10]

While Ceracchi, born on July 4, 1751, created busts for several founding fathers, his life did not end well. After returning to Europe, he first celebrated Napoleon with a bust, but then turned against him. After an unsuccessful plot, Napoleon had him guillotined at the Place de Grève on January 30, 1801.[9][11]



  1. ^ a b "Alexander Hamilton, (sculpture)". Inventory of American Sculpture, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
  2. ^ a b c d "Treasury's Hamilton Bust". U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  3. ^ Dearinger, David Bernard (2004). "Giuseppe Ceracchi". Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design: 1826–1925. Hudson Hills Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 1-55595-029-9.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (July 25, 1795). "From Alexander Hamilton to Robert Troup, 25 July 1795". National Archives. note 6.
  5. ^ a b "Property from the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations". Sotheby's. November 30, 2005. Archived from the original on August 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Sizer, Theodore (1967). "Alexander Hamilton: Ceracchi Type". The Works of Colonel John Trumbull, Artist of the American Revolution. with the assistance of Caroline Rollins (Revised ed.). Yale University Press. pp. 37–8.
  7. ^ "Alexander Hamilton, (Replica) (painting)". Inventory of American Sculpture, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Smithsonian American Art Museum.
  8. ^ "30-cent Hamilton". National Postal Museum.
  9. ^ a b "The Hamilton Statue. Its Unveiling To-day – The Bust After Which It Was Modeled". The New York Times. November 22, 1880.
  10. ^ "Hamilton Comes to Life (and Death) On-screen". National Park Service.
  11. ^ Roscoe, Ingrid; Hardy, Emma; Sullivan, M.G. "Giuseppe Ceracchi". Online Database of the Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851.

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