Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
Overall: 30 x 13 1/8 x 11 in. ( 76.2 x 33.3 x 27.9 cm )
signed: on back of drapery: "T. ball Sculp. Boston Mass 1853 patent assigned to G W Nichols" inscribed: on back of base: "J T AMES FOUNDER CHICOPEE MASS 3"
The American statesman was born in Salisbury, New Hampshire, the son of Ebenezer Webster and Abigail Eastman. After graduating from Dartmouth College he studied law and in 1805 was admitted to the bar. Webster became famous for his astute interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. After turning to politics he was elected to Congress from New Hampshire, serving there from 1813 to 1817. In 1816 he moved to Boston and a few years later was again elected to the House of Representatives, this time from Massachusetts. In 1827 he was sent to the U.S. Senate where he served with distinction for fourteen years before becoming U.S. secretary of state under Presidents William Henry Harrison and Tyler, an office he held from 1841-43. He thereafter returned to the U.S. Senate (1845-50) and was again named secretary of state in the cabinet of Millard Fillmore (1850-52). In 1852 he was the unsuccessful candidate for the Whig nomination for president, and he died that year at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Thomas Ball (1819-1911) was only beginning his career as a sculptor in Boston in 1852 when he first modeled the likeness of Daniel Webster. He recalled in his autobiography: "as [Webster's] procession was to pass through Tremont Street, you may be sure I was at [my studio] door to have a good look at him. . . . It seemed but a few days before the bulletins began to record his rapid decline, and then came the final announcement of his death. My bust was finished but a day or two before. . . ." (My Three Score Years and Ten, 1891). The next year Ball modeled a statuette of Webster, his first full-length figure, using his portrait bust for the likeness of the head. The statuette was the basis for Ball's two heroic size statues of Webster, one in Central Park, New York, the other for Concord, New Hampshire.
Gift of Mrs. Katherine Chambers
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.