About This Artwork

Thomas Ball
American, 1819-1911
Cast by J. T. Ames
Chicapee, Massachusetts

Daniel Webster, modeled and cast 1853

76.2 x 30.4 x 27.9 cm (30 x 12 x 11 in.)
Incised at back of drapers: "T Ball Sculpt/Boston Mass/1853/Patent assigned to / C W Nichols"

Gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray, 1986.1347

Thomas Ball modeled Daniel Webster prior to receiving his first formal training in sculpture. A Massachusetts native, Ball admired the great orator and was inspired to create this full-length statuette a year after Webster’s death. Despite the mid-19th-century taste for Neoclassicism, Ball rendered his figure with decided naturalism. Webster stands assuredly with his right hand tucked Napoleon-like into his lapel, yet Ball likewise portrayed the senator’s rumpled clothing and round waistline. A commercial success, Daniel Webster was one of the earliest sculptures in the U.S. to be patented and mass-produced. The artwork later inspired two monumental versions, one of which stands in Central Park in New York.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, David and Alfred Smart Gallery, Alumni Who Collect II: Sculpture from 1600 to the Present, Apr. 18–June 16, 1985, no cat.

Publication History

Kirk Savage, “Molding Emancipation: John Quincy Adams Ward’s The Freedman and the Meaning of the Civil War,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 1 (2001), pp. 26-39, fig. 3.

Ownership History

Richard and Mary L. Gray, Chicago, by 1986; The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.

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