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Bust of Turgot

Turgot Bust by Houdon View Interactive Version ]

A terra cotta-patinated plaster bust of Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot—economist, intellect, and political figure—was among the portraits by Houdon acquired by Jefferson upon his departure from France. Turgot was a physiocrat, one of a school of political economists that believed that "society should be governed according to an inherent natural order, that the soil is the sole source of wealth and the only proper object of taxation, . . ."1 Turgot's discharge as controller-general of finances in 1776 by Louis XVI presaged bankruptcy in France.

In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson described Turgot as the head of "... the sect called the oeconomists..."2 When Jefferson learned that his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., planned to study the law, he advised, "There are some excellent books of Theory written by Turgot and the economists of France."3

Artist/Maker copy after Jean-Antoine Houdon
Createdcopy after 1775 original
Origin/PurchaseParis, France (original)
Object TypeArt and Sculpture
Materialsplaster (copy and original)
Dimensions31 x 23 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.
LocationEntrance Hall


  1. Margaret Drabble, The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 762.
  2. Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 12, 1789.Julian Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 14:437.
  3. Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., 30 May 1790.Julian Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 16:449.

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