George Washington Goes Greek

Enthroned Washington

Have you ever seen George Washington like this? This 9-foot-high statue of George Washington was sculpted by Horatio Greenough in 1840 to celebrate the centennial of Washington’s birth.  The statue was originally placed in the Capitol Rotunda but when the 30-ton statue cracked the floor it was moved outside  and eventually landed in the American History Museum. The people of Washington hated the statue.  The general consensus was that Washington should not be represented half-naked. The joke about Washington DC when the statue was first displayed was that the upraised hand represented Washington reaching for his clothes.

 “Enthroned Washington” was based on the statue of the statue of the Zeus Olympus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The sheathed sword in his left hand with the hilt forward represents Washington surrendering power to the American people. The upraised hand with the two fingers extended generally symbolizes a benediction or blessing.  The pointing finger can also symbolize the presence of God in Christian symbology.  (See Nasty Note below on research.)

BTW #1: This week ritabay.wordpress.com features century-old children’s short stories about Washington and other Revolutionary War heroes that highlight American exceptionalism.

BTW #2: In serious NaNoWriMo trouble but determined to win in the end. RB

Next week, another American patriot     Rita Bay

Nasty Note:  The published research on this was a mess. Found the picture immediately but the background research across MULTIPLE sources was WRONG. Zeus was NOT in the temple of the Pantheon Rome. It would have been Jupiter (the Roman equivalent of Zeus) who was associated with the planet which was a theme of the Pantheon. The Pantheon statues were lost (or repurposed) after the Pantheon was converted to a Catholic Church which it still is today. The statue of Zeus Olympus in Greece which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is a much better candidate for a model but it was also destroyed in ancient times but representations do survive and resemble Greenough’s statue.  Does anyone have any info, cause I hate this kind of confusion?  RB

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2 Responses

  1. Artistically, that statue is beautiful. But poor George! Washington in Greek garb is rather jarring when first glimpsed. You have to go back for a closer look. Frankly, I never knew it existed! So thank you for enlightenment, as usual.

    I have faith in your getting NaNo done, Rita.

    Quick question: Have you received your cover art and release date yet from Chanpagne? Please keep us posted, because Enquiring Readers want to know!.

    • Thanks for your kind comments as always, Runere. No one wants to think of George naked.
      Nano is a disaster but I won’t quit. Lyon’s Den is due out next summer . No cover yet. You know I’ll share the minute I see it. Rit a Bay

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