||On December 24, 1821, the statue of George
Washington arrived in Raleigh. The state paid $10,000 for this national
art treasure. Details of the original sculpture can be seen in this lithograph
of Leutze and Weisman painting of Canova Statue done after the 1831 fire.
Pictured are General Lafayette, Betsey John, daughter of State Treasurer
John Haywood and George West, young artist. Canova never received the drawing,
so Washington's body was left up to his imagination. He looked to ancient
classical civilizations for inspiration like other artists and architects
of the time, particularly the neoclassical
style. He depicted Washington as a Roman general, dressed in a tunic,
body armor, and a short cape. Ironically some thought that the statue should
be put on rollers so that it could be quickly moved should something happen
to the State House. The rollers were discounted as lacking in dignity.
In 1831 when the State House burned and the statue was destroyed, many
may have been heard to say, "I told you so."
|"The statue of Washington, by the great sculptor, Canova, was ordered
by the Legislature and placed in the rotunda of the Capitol in 1822. It
was simple, magnificent. It was regarded by all connoisseurs of Art as
the first in conception and execution of all Canova's works and it had
a lifelike majestic appearance which is indescribable and which would require
a personal inspection to appreciate...The statue was of finest Carrara
marble, draped as a Roman general in a sitting position. In the left had
was a tablet and in the right a pen and Washington was represented as penning
his Farewell Address. The pedestal was seven feet high and four and a half
feet wide, embellished with four bas reliefs with figures three feet high.
In the front was the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown and in the rear
was Cincinnatus returning to the plow, representing a pair of oxen with
Roman yoke. The people of North Carolina were prouder of this statue than
anything else they possessed, and great was their grief at its destruction
...from Recollections of the City of Raleigh by Dr. R.B. Haywood
Quoted from Raleigh: The First 200 Years (Beal 1992)