Finally, the full George Washington
It is a statue of the father of our country that America has never seen: George Washington in the buff.
He is not wearing a velvet suit, as he does in the stonyfaced Gilbert Stuart portrait. He is not wearing a Continental Army uniform, as he does in the painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Nor is he wearing a Roman toga, as he does in another statue. That Washington, naked from the waist up, offended Victorian-era sensibilities in the nation’s capital. A founding father’s pecs and abs were too much for the 1840s.
The naked Washington is a not-quite-200-year-old plaster statue by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova — a 30-inch preliminary model for a life-size image of Washington that was going to show him in a Roman soldier’s uniform (with the torso covered). The naked statue is coming to the United States for the first time for an exhibition called “Canova’s George Washington,” which is scheduled to open next year at the Frick Collection. A full-size plaster model will also make its American debut, along with sketches and drawings, all lent by the Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno, Italy.