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President John Quincy Adams

President John Quincy Adams
Hiram Powers, born Woodstock, VT 1805-died Florence, Italy 1873
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
modeled 1837
22 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 10 3/8 in. (57.8 x 37.4 x 26.2 cm)
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Luce Center Label
The poem you see above was written by John Quincy Adams to express his thanks to Hiram Powers. The two men became friends during the sculptor’s stay in Washington, and Powers created this piece as a token of respect for the former president. The portrait was modeled in 1837, shortly before Powers left Washington for Florence, and it was one of the first sculptures carved from marble in his Italian studio. As he sat for the artist, Adams told many stories and anecdotes from his lively career. Powers later claimed that “I do not know that I have ever met with a more entertaining man.”
Luce Object Quote
“Sculptor, thy hand has moulded into form
The haggard features of a toil-worn face;
And whosoever views thy work shall trace
An age of sorrow, and a Life of Storm.
And, canst thou mould the Heart? For that—is warm;
Glowing with tenderness for all its race;
Instinct with all the Sympathies that grace
The pure and artless bosom, where they swarm.”
From “To Hiram Powers” by John Quincy Adams, 1837, quoted in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, 1989-91
Data Source
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Painting and Sculpture
On View
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 20B
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor