Skip to comments.Wax Figures Show (Real George Washington
Posted on 02/17/2006 2:31:10 AM PST by Majie Purple
News 02/17/2006 00:13:06 EST Wax Figures Show 'Real' George Washington By RICHARD PYLE Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK - In a former box factory on an old Brooklyn street named for him, half a mile from where his defeated army escaped by night to fight another day, George Washington has all but come back to life. Not just one George Washington, but three - the 19-year-old wilderness surveyor, the 45-year-old Revolutionary War general and the 57-year-old president on his inauguration day in 1789.
The trio of life-size wax figures, created by British-born artists Stuart Williamson and Sue Day, is destined for a new $95 million permanent exhibit at Washington's estate in Mount Vernon, Va. "The Real George Washington" will open to the public next October.
While a 1785 terra-cotta bust and plaster life mask by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon and several portraits by American painter Charles Wilson Peale are considered the most accurate likenesses, StudioEIS director Ivan Schwartz says his team of sculptors also meets Washington's own definition of artists as "doorkeepers of the temple of fame."
"People will look at these figures and be sort of awe-struck, but they will make people think in a different way," Schwartz says. "This is wonderful speculation about what he looked like."
The idea of depicting the "real" Washington at three important moments in his life originated with James Rees, executive director at Mount Vernon, who says he realized Americans knew the mythological Washington who could not tell a lie and threw a dollar across the Rappahannock, but not the Washington chosen by his fellow founders to lead both the revolution and the new nation.
"A lot of it goes back to the classroom," Rees says. "My school history textbook in 1966 had 10 times as many lines about Washington as books used today. And visitors to Mount Vernon kept telling us in exit surveys that 'you haven't taught me anything about him.'
"The only Washington they know is the one on the dollar bill. They use words like stiff, old, grumpy, and, worst of all, boring."
Rees notes that even the Washington Monument on the National Mall has no statue or inscribed quotations from the man it honors.
Thus the decision to present the "real" George Washington - not the benign squire of Mount Vernon tending his gardens and livestock, but the man of action, charting the forests, on horseback in war and in the political arena. "We figured the place to start was to show young people what he really looked like," Rees says.
None of the wax versions resemble the tightlipped face on the dollar bill, but they do reflect the changes caused by progressive tooth loss that began at age 22 and in later life distorted the shape of his jaw and required him to wear dentures made of human and animal teeth. Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732, and died at the age of 67.
Because no portrait exists of him before age 38, the face of the young surveyor was based on age-regression technology used by Jeffrey Schwartz, a University of Pittsburgh anthropology professor (no relation to Ivan) to determine how he probably looked at age 19.
The wax models will incorporate copies of real artifacts - a Continental Army uniform owned by the Smithsonian Institution, snippets of his reddish hair and the suit in which he may have taken the oath of office, both from Mount Vernon's collection.
By measuring five pieces of clothing he is known to have worn, it was determined that Washington stood 6 feet 2 inches "plus seven-eighths in his shoes," Ivan Schwartz says.
During a recent visit to StudioEIS on historic Washington Street, the nearly completed President-elect Washington, in brown suit and buckled shoes, stood a few feet from Gen. Washington in uniform astride a wooden mock-up that looked less like a horse than a mechanical bull in a Texas saloon. Both figures were painted in lifelike flesh tones, and a hint of dark stubble suggested the general hadn't shaved before reviewing his troops at Valley Forge that morning.
Nearby, Day was touching up the strong-chinned face of the teenage Washington. A deft brush stroke of clear acrylic brought sudden life to the blue eyes. When completed, that figure would be suitably dressed for mapping the Shenandoah wilderness in 1750.
Schwartz says it didn't initially occur to him how close his studio was to real history - the East River boat landing where, in 1776, Washington's army fled to Manhattan after its defeat by the redcoats in the Battle of Brooklyn.
Williamson, a former chief sculptor at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London who also works in stone and wood, found it ironic that two Brits were being asked to re-create their country's chief nemesis. But both he and Day, a former Tussaud's makeup expert, were impressed by the subject.
"I've worked on many figures that were the flavor of the moment, but none with the staying power of George Washington," Day says. "I've learned more about him than I ever knew."
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Thanks for posting the lovely graphic! and for pinging all those folks to the article...Happy President's Day.(Mon.)
Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a graphic here too...Wow...What fun!
Thanks for adding your presence and the link here for folks.
Well, at least they're not putting him on 42nd street.
Hi again "Ri!"
Thank you for the compiment and I thank you for reading it and taking the time to comment.
Peale was very young when he painted his first Washington. However, there is a photograph of Peale in old age, which for me puts Washington and the Revolution practically in current events.
Thank you very much! And Happy Presidents Day to you too!
2nd ping...look Bro.!At how many are bumping by! Thanks to all!
Someone's addicted to FReeping . . .
George Washington's 274th Birthday Celebration!
Saturday and Sunday, February 18 & 19
Join General Washington for a sample of his favorite morning meal, cooked over an open fire from 9 a.m. - noon (while supplies last). See America's Smallest Hometown Parade at 1:30 p.m.
Monday, February 20
FREE admission for all visitors!
Enjoy musical and military performances by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps and the Commander-in-Chief's Guard. Festivities begin after a 10 a.m. ceremony at Washington's tomb. America's Smallest Hometown Parade steps off at 1:30 p.m.
BUY 1 DAY, GET 364 FREE!
Buy your Annual Pass to Mount Vernon on the national observance of Washington's Birthday and save $5! Adult passes, regularly $18, will be on sale for the price of single-day admission, just $13. Add youth (6-11) for just $9 each. Available Monday, February 20 only.
Additional Activities Throughout the Day:
9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Visit the George Washington: Pioneer Farmer site and the 16-sided barn. Walk the quarter-mile Forest Trail.
10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Slave Life at Mount Vernon, special interpretation in
the Slave Quarters on the north lane (daily in February).
11:00 a.m.-noon & 2:00 p.m-4:00 p.m.
General Washington will be pleased to receive your birthday greetings! Find him near the Mansion.
11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Book Singing at the Shops at Mount Vernon
George Washington, Spymaster by Thomas B. Allen
FREE Parking courtesy of Good Shepherd Catholic Church and Mount Vernon High School. Shuttles hosted by the Mount Vernon Volunteers.
"Someone's addicted to FReeping . . ."
You got that right Bro! Thanks for introducing me to this Site! Hope You don't mind all the share with You pings! I'm pretty sure You welcome said pings...as do I...Take Care,LY!
Sounds like fun...And good histoically based eats!Eat something during the meal for me!
Didn't make it to Ferry Farm today, unfortunately. Groggy, had laundry to do, and it dropped down to freezing. Not seriously cold, but cold enough to dampen my enthusiasm. Oh well.
I've just spent several very enjoyable hours jumping off from the first link you provided, reveling in the history of George Washington, his homes, his life, early America, etc. What a ride.
Thank you very much.
You're quite welcome! I am a big history buff- I really enjoy haunting the history related sites around here.
Washington was an exceptional and fascinating man. The more I read about him, the higher my opinion of him goes.
I'd drive over to Mt. Vernon tomorrow, but I did that last year on 'President's Day', and it was a zoo. I'll wait for spring to come, then do it in the middle of the week. I hate crowds.
President's Day BTW- is a HUGE big deal in Oldtown Alexandria, Virginia. There is a spectacular parade there- re-enactor units and actors playing the presidents and each of the armed services sends a platoon-sized drill unit. It's really a lot of fun to watch.
Hello there Gretchen! How are Ya? Thanks for coming and I'm glad Riley placed those links for you & others to explore! Cool!
That wax head in post #15 looks just like DATA...that android character from the television show 'Star Trek, the Next Generation'.