Dexter, Henry, 1806-1876

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Portrait sculptor Henry Dexter began his artistic career as a painter, studying with Francis Alexander of Boston, MA. Though completely self-taught as a sculptor, his first commissioned work, a bust of Rev. Dr. Anderson, began four decades of marble and plaster portraits that produced over 200 sculptures. Some of the most noted figures who sat for him were Charles Dickens (1841) and President James Buchanan (ca. 1859). In 1859-1860, Dexter attempted to sculpt portraits of all United States governors in office at that time intending to offer the collection to Congress to be placed in the Capitol or some public building in Washington, D.C. He traveled from state to state, first modeling his sitters in clay, then making a plaster mold which he shipped back home to Cambridge, MA.

He intended to ultimately sculpt them all in marble. Dexter succeeded in finishing only 33 busts before the Civil War broke out, and placed the plaster series on exhibition in Doric Hall in the State House in Boston. In 1861, he offered marble copies of these busts for sale to the respective states for the sum of $500.00 each and reportedly sold several. After his death, the original collection was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1889 by Dexter's daughter, Anna Douglass.

From the description of Papers, 1841-1891. (Winterthur Library). WorldCat record id: 84666726

Relation Name
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. person
associatedWith Allston, Washington, 1779-1843. person
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Brigham family family
associatedWith Buchanan, James, 1791-1868. person
associatedWith Clapp, William Warland, 1826-1891 person
associatedWith Dexter, Henry person
associatedWith Douglass, Anna. person
associatedWith Johannot family family
associatedWith Mackenzie, Alexander Slidell, 1803-1848. person
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. corporateBody
associatedWith Story, Joseph, 1779-1845. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Governors--19th century
Voyages and travels
Art patrons
Sculpture--Catalogs--19th century
Sculpture, American--19th century
Sculptors--Correspondence.--United States


Birth 1806

Death 1876




Ark ID: w6f77bc0

SNAC ID: 41446233