The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon

The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon

by Carla Killough McClafferty
     
 

"No picture accurately resembled him in the minute traits of his person . . . there was an expression of his face that no painter had succeeded in taking."—London's New Monthly Magazine in 1790

George Washington's face has been painted, printed, and engraved more than a billion times since his birth in 1732. And yet even in his lifetime, no picture seemed to

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Overview

"No picture accurately resembled him in the minute traits of his person . . . there was an expression of his face that no painter had succeeded in taking."—London's New Monthly Magazine in 1790

George Washington's face has been painted, printed, and engraved more than a billion times since his birth in 1732. And yet even in his lifetime, no picture seemed to capture the likeness of the man who is now the most iconic of all our presidents. Worse still, people today often see this founding father as the "old and grumpy" Washington on the dollar bill.

In 2005 a team of historians, scientists, and artisans at Mount Vernon set out to change the image of our first president. They studied paintings and sculptures, pored over Washington's letters to his tailors and noted other people's comments about his appearance, even closely examined the many sets of dentures that had been created for Washington. Researchers tapped into skills as diverse as 18th-century leatherworking and cutting-edge computer programming to assemble truer likenesses. Their painstaking research and exacting processes helped create three full-body representations of Washington as he was at key moments in his life. And all along the way, the team gained new insight into a man who was anything but "old and grumpy." Join award-winning author Carla Killough McClafferty as she unveils the statues of the three Georges and rediscovers the man who became the face of a new nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
In recent years efforts have been made by the staff of the Mount Vernon Historical Site to remake the exhibits which present George Washington at various stages of his life. As part of that revision process, concentrated efforts were made to recreate three distinct models of Washington's face and physical characteristics. In order to make these figures as realistic and accurate as possible the museum staff utilized the services of anthropologists, master craftsmen, artists, and historians. The search process involved carefully analyzing existing sculptures of Washington, paintings, historical records, and the material objects belonging to Washington such as dentures that have been preserved over time. In this publication readers are given a two-fold look at the world and physiognomy of the first President of the United States. First, the author takes her readers into the world of the specialists who were charged with recreating George Washington for the viewing public. This portion of the book is fascinating and includes descriptions of the ways in which talented people were able to pool their respective gifts to create truly amazing renditions of President Washington. Additionally, the author provides a well crafted biography of George Washington which places the artistic reconstruction work in a historical context. This combined approach comes together well and results in a book that tells an intriguing story about an exceptional person. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
Kirkus Reviews

With the goal of boosting interest in George Washington, in 2005 Mount Vernon commissioned three life-size reproductions of him at ages 19, 45 and 57.Enthusiastic prose and informative photographs convey in considerable detail the work on this project by a variety of experts, including sculptors, archaeologists, historians, dentists, painters, taxidermists and more.The process entailed extensive research, up-to-date technology such as laser scanners and age-old techniques of leatherwork and hand-sewing to form and clothe the lifelike figures now on display.Even one of his horses, Blueskin, was meticulously re-created. Chapters on the reconstruction alternate with biographical chapters about the corresponding years in Washington's life, when he was a young surveyor and soldier, Revolutionary general presiding over early battles and Valley Forge and incoming president.Quotations from Washington and his contemporaries add a personal note, while reproductions of portraits, statues and artifacts supply visual interest.Color photographs show some of the steps in the reconstruction. The narrow focus makes this handsome volume likely to appeal to visitors to Mount Vernon or those with a special interest in Washington or in such reconstructions.Suggestions for further age-appropriate reading supplement an extensive bibliography. (timeline, source notes, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—The image of Washington that most people know is the version of the Gilbert Stuart portrait on the one dollar bill. That stiff-looking visage is disapproving and more than a bit dyspeptic. But is that rendition accurate? Not according to the team of forensic anthropologists and artists hired by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association to create life-sized re-creations of Washington as he looked at pivotal moments in his life: as a 19-year-old surveyor, a 45-year-old general of the Continental Army, and taking the oath of office at 57 as President of the United States. This interestingly and intelligently written book alternates chapters detailing the reconstruction process with Washington's biography, making the changes in his appearance understandable as a function of his life experience and, of course, the history of the American Revolution and establishment of our democracy is limned simultaneously. The full-color images are excellent throughout and are astounding when showing the wax reconstructions. The reading level aims this at middle and high school readers, but the format looks younger. Thus, some promoting may be necessary. It's worth it, however, for its excellent revitalization of a man often reduced to a lifeless icon. There's an exemplary (and extensive) print bibliography, listing books, primary-source documents, articles, theses, DVDs, and interviews. Further reading suggestions and a list of websites, as well as a comprehensive and accurate index are appended. A stellar addition to most libraries.—Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761356080
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/01/2011
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Carla Killough McClafferty writes nonfiction books for young readers. But writing is not the first career for McClafferty, who is a Radiologic Technologist. Her work as an author began with her debut book, Forgiving God, an inspirational book that deals with the death of her youngest son, Corey. Next, she turned her attention to writing nonfiction for readers in upper elementary, middle school, and high school. Her first three books in this genre were published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The Head Bone's Connected to the Neck Bone: The Weird, Wacky and Wonderful X-ray, Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium, and In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry. Her latest book is The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon (Carolrhoda). Her books have been recognized for excellence by the Junior Library Guild, Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children by the CBC, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List, IRA Children's Book Award Winner, a NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book, ALA Best Books for Young Adult List, ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book, National Council of Social Studies/Children's Book Council Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Booklist Top Ten Sci-Tech books, NCTE Orbis Pictus recommended book, an International 2008 Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, Cooperative Children's Book Council (CCBC) Choices 2009 list, Arkansas's 2008-2009 Charlie May Simon Reading List, and received a starred reviews in School Library Journal, Booklist, and Jewish Book World. McClafferty is a popular speaker for both children and adults. She has presented at a wide variety of local, national, and international venues, providing workshops and keynote addresses at events which include ALA, AASL, NCTE, IRA national and regional SCBWI conferences. She lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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