title: Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century

Theodore Roosevelt As a former presiding officer of the United States Senate, Theodore Roosevelt was requested by that body to sit for a sculpted bust in 1904. His first choice of an artist was Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but he declined because of ill health. In his place, he recommended his former assistant, James Earle Fraser, whom Roosevelt accepted as a worthy substitute. The sittings took place in the East Room of the White House in the early mornings and again late in the afternoons. Roosevelt stated exactly how he wished to be modeled, without his spectacles and with his head thrown back. Fraser, however, soon discovered that Roosevelt's expression would be truer to life if he would wear his glasses, to which the President complied. Impressed by the forceful way in which Roosevelt leaned his head forward to make a point, Fraser next wanted to sculpt his subject in such a pose. "By George, that is good!" exclaimed the President when he saw the altered clay model. The Senate, however, rejected this bust, because it depicted Roosevelt dressed in his Rough Rider attire. Fraser did a second, less successful bust in marble for the Senate; he modeled Roosevelt according to his original wishes, and attired him in a Prince Albert coat. The bronze cast shown here was made in 1920, and preserves the spontaneity and vigor of Fraser's original interpretation.

Theodore Roosevelt
James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)
Bronze, 1920
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


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