Jacques Jouvenal

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Jacques Jouvenal
Jacques Jouvenal about 1905
Born (1829-03-08)March 8, 1829
Pinache, Baden, German Confederation
Died March 8, 1905(1905-03-08) (aged 76)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality German American
Known for Sculpture
Notable work Bust of General von Steuben;
Benjamin Franklin Statue

Jacques Jouvenal (March 8, 1829 - March 8, 1905) was a German American sculptor. He assisted in the carving of the columns for the United States Capitol, and sculpted many busts of noted Americans.

Life and career[edit]

Jouvenal was born in March 1829 in to Francois and Susanna (Giraud) Jouvenal.[1][a][2] His parents were Huguenots who fled religious persecution in France and settled in Pinache (now the town of Wiernsheim) in the state of Baden in the German Confederation. When he was 16 years old, he moved to Stuttgart, capital of the neighboring German state of Württemberg, where he was trained as a sculptor.[3]

Jouvenal emigrated to the United States in June 1853, and married Mary Hauser on August 17, 1853, in New York City.[1] The Jouvenals moved to Washington, D.C., in July 1855, where Jouvenal helped to sculpt the capitals of the columns of the United States Capitol, then undergoing a major expansion. Jouvenal was dismissed when the American Civil War broke out in April 1861.[3]

Jouvenal established himself as a sculptor in the city, and was well known as a portraitist.[4] When the Richmond and Danville Railroad (precursor to the Southern Railway) expanded its headquarters at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in 1886, it commissioned a statue of Benjamin Franklin to stand over the entrance. Stilson Hutchins, founder and publisher of The Washington Post, purchased the statue and presented it to the city. Although designed by Ernst Plassman and almost identical to his Franklin statue in New York City, it was carved by Jouvenal.[5] Jouvenal founded a stoneyard and sold funeral monuments from a shop at 10th and D Streets NW in the city. In the 1860s and 1870s, he was the pre-eminent sculptor of funeral monuments in the city.[6] In the years just prior to his death, Jouvenal was employed by the Architect of the Capitol, and designed sculpture and architectural details for both the Capitol building and the then-unbuilt State, War, and Navy Building.[7]

Jacques Jouvenal died of unspecified causes on the morning of March 8, 1905, at his home. He was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.[1] Jouvenal was survived by his wife, two sons (Rudolph and Adolph),[8] and four daughters (Caroline, Clara, Emma, and Wilhelmina).[9]

Jouvenal's son, Rudolph, was also a sculptor and stonecutter, and was chosen from a field of 225 stonemasons to carve the capstone for the Washington Monument.[10]


Jouvenal was a prolific sculptor. Among his more notable works are a statue of Benjamin Franklin, and portrait busts of Alexander Hamilton, Martin Van Buren, and Daniel Webster.[11] His bust of Aaron Burr (1893) is still held by the United States Senate.[12] His marble bust of General von Steuben, finished in 1870, is one of the earliest monuments to the hero of the American Revolutionary War, and stands on the grounds of the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.[13]

Jouvenal also sculpted many funeral memorials and monuments. These include the Force Memorial at Rock Creek Cemetery and many memorials at Prospect Hill Cemetery, both in Washington, D.C.[11]



  1. ^ Although many sources say that Jouvenal's mother's name was Mary, Jouvenal himself called her Susanna.
  1. ^ a b c "Death of Jacques Jouvenal – Famous Sculptor and Descendant of Huguenots Succumbs, Aged Seventy-Six". The Washington Post. March 9, 1905. p. 2. 
  2. ^ "Auction Sales". The Evening Star. April 12, 1880. p. 3. 
  3. ^ a b Fairman 1913, p. 41.
  4. ^ "Golden Anniversary". The Evening Star. August 22, 1903. p. 2. 
  5. ^ "A Statue of Franklin". The Washington Post. January 18, 1889. p. 1. 
  6. ^ Reed 1980, p. 79.
  7. ^ "Jacques Jouvenal Dead". The Evening Star. March 8, 1905. p. 7. 
  8. ^ "Will Be Buried Monday". The Evening Star. July 29, 1911. p. 10. 
  9. ^ "The World of Society". The Evening Star. February 6, 1907. p. 5 ; "Mrs. Clara J. Steinle Dies at Silver Spring". The Evening Star. September 4, 1943. p. 12. 
  10. ^ "Who Cut the Capstone?". The Evening Star. December 19, 1901. p. 16 ; "Funeral Services for Mrs. Jouvenal Monday". Washington TImes. July 29, 1911. p. 7. 
  11. ^ a b Historic Preservation Review Board 2006, p. 4.
  12. ^ "Aaron Burr". Art & History, United States Senate. n.d. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ Pohlsander 2010, p. 33.