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Bust of John Adams

Bust of John Adams View Interactive Version ]

Adams's portrait for Faneuil Hall in Boston was financed by 215 public subscribers who each contributed two dollars so as to transmit "to our Children the Features of the Man, whose patriotic energies were so strenuously exerted for the Independence of our common Country."1 Adams described Binon as:

a French artist from Lyons who has studied Eight Years in Italy has lately taken my Bust. He appears to be an Artist and a Man of Letters. I let them do what they please with my old head.2

Binon studied with the sculptor Joseph Chinard (1756-1813) in France and was the American sculptor Horatio Greenough's first teacher. Binon sculpted a marble bust for Faneuil Hall and hoped to sell plaster versions for profit, although Adams thought it "so hopeless a speculation."3 Binon made at least six plasters, including those given to Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, the Boston Athenaeum, and Jefferson.

Jefferson was presented with a plaster as a gift from Benjamin Gould, who wrote him,

I have sent by the schooner Virginia, Capt. Otis, a Box containing a plaister Bust of Mr. Adams, which I beg you will do me the honor to accept. It is taken from the marble bust of Binon. . . The likeness is considered most striking. No one can hesitate an instant in recognizing it, who has seen the original within ten years.4

The bust was received at Monticello in August 1825. Jefferson thanked Gould and reported,

Without knowing exactly the precise period at which it was taken I think it a good likeness of what he was a little after he had passed the middle age of life. It received a little injury by fracture but the parts are preserved, and being behind can be repaired without disfiguring it. I place it with pleasure in the line in my cabinet of his predecessor and successors. . .5

Artist/Makercopy after J. B. A. Binon
Createdafter 1818
Origin/PurchaseBoston, MA
Object TypeArt and Sculpture
Dimensions25 x 14 x 20 in.


  1. Cited in Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, 180.
  2. John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 29 May 1818, Lester J. Cappon, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, 526.
  3. John Adams to John B. Binon, 7 February 1819, cited in Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, 185.
  4. Benjamin Gould to Thomas Jefferson, 14 July 1825, American Memory Project - The Thomas Jefferson Papers
  5. Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Gould, 5 August 1825, American Memory Project - The Thomas Jefferson Papers

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