Looked at a lot of statues and busts in the past year. One of the things that intrigues me is the way people interact with sculpture, particularly the ways and places people touch sculpture.
At Mount Vernon, Americans have a fondness for George Washington’s nose:
Other copies of the bust exist around the country, by Utah sculptor Avard Fairbanks. If I’m correct on the provenance, this one was placed at Salt Lake International Airport for the nation’s bicentennial, then was obtained by George Washington University (one of my alma maters, by the way), and was loaned by GWU to the Ladies of Mount Vernon. (No wonder the thing looked so familiar to me . . . it’s been following me around for years. I wonder when it gets to Texas, or upstate New York.)
Displayed at the main entrance to the visitors center at Mt. Vernon, the bust is at a level that people can touch it, and they do.
It’s fun to watch people who stop to look at the bust. Almost inevitably they look a bit awed by it. Then, if they take a minute, they look it up and down, and put out their hand to touch George’s nose.
Almost as if they consider George Washington a good luck charm, and a touch of his nose might rub some luck off onto them. It’s rubbing the nose shiny, an interesting way Americans pay tribute to our first president.
- Eleanor Roosevelt’s hands, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
- Raising a Toast With George Washington’s Beer (history.com)
- NBC Developing George Washington Drama From David Seidler & Levinson/Fontana (m.deadline.com)
- Drawing By 10-Year-Old George Washington Found? (history.com)