Installation

The Thomas Jefferson Statue in Context

April 13, 2022 - Ongoing

This depiction of the third U.S. president is the original plaster sculpture used to make the bronze version on display in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Location

1st floor, Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History

This depiction of the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, is the original plaster sculpture used to make the bronze version on display in the Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C. It is the work of Pierre-Jean David d’Angers, a prolific artist, controversial political dissident, and preeminent 19th-century French monument maker.

New York real estate investor Uriah P. Levy (1792–1862), the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy, privately commissioned the statue as a gift to the nation to commemorate Jefferson’s advocacy of religious freedom. The seven-foot-tall plaster sculpture, which references Jefferson’s authorship of the American Declaration of Independence, arrived at City Hall in 1834, when Levy donated it to the City of New York. In 1919, it was installed in the Aldermanic (now City Council) Chamber, where it remained until its removal to New-York Historical in 2021. Because of Jefferson’s complex legacy and history as an enslaver, City Council members requested that the statue be relocated to a place where it could be interpreted within a historical context.

This display was made possible with the generous support of Helen and Robert Appel.

Bloomberg Connects

Download the free arts and culture app and explore New-York Historical's digital guide, including new audio clips related to this installation. Enter lookup number 5 to hear scholarly experts discuss their various perspectives on Thomas Jefferson and the statue.

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Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

  • NYC Cultural Affairs
  • NY Council on the Arts

Media sponsor:

  • WNET New York Public Media