Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Object Number: 
Painted plaster
Overall: 35 x 26 3/4 x 16 1/2 in. ( 88.9 x 67.9 x 41.9 cm )
inscriptions: proper right side of base: "D.C. French/1925(?)"
Portrait bust: Maquette for bronze at Irving Memorial, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York; plaster painted to resemble bronze
Gallery Label: 
Foremost among America's early writers, Irving is best remembered as the author of "Diedrich Knickerbocker's" A History of New York (which was dedicated to The New-York Historical Society), The Sketch Book, and the tales "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." He was born in New York, the son of William Irving, a merchant, and Sarah (Sanders) Irving. After studying law as a young man he was admitted to the bar, but his love of English literature soon led him to his first efforts as an author. His satirical History of New York (1809), written as if old Diedrich Knickerbocker were telling the story, established his reputation. Following the War of 1812, Irving went to England for several years where he became the friend of the leading literary figures of the day - among them Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Campbell. The Sketch Book by "Geoffrey Crayon" (1819-20) made him famous overnight. In 1826 he was appointed attache to the American embassy in Madrid, where he continued to write. From 1829 to 1832 he was secretary of legation in London. He then returned to America, where his literary contributions continued through the 1850s. About 1835 he purchased the old Dutch house he called Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York, which became famous as his residence and as a gathering place for the artists and writers of the time. His last years were devoted to his Life of George Washington. The original of this bust is at the Washington Irving Memorial, Irvington-on-Hudson, and dates from 1928. In the late 1920s French made a series of excellent portrait busts of famous authors, consulting other portraits or photographs to obtain his likenesses since the subjects were dead.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Mrs. William Penn Cresson, (Margaret French)
Mrs. William Penn Cresson (Margaret French), daughter of the artist
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group