top of page

Bust of Demosthenes

Artist: Copy after the Roman Antique.
Year: Mid 19th century.
Medium: Marble
Size: NA
Original Location: Grand Salon
1983.01.05 EL On loan from the Noel family.

This is one of four larger than life size busts that were displayed in the Grand salon. It is not known if these four were Grand Tour purchases or purchase at another time. These types of bust would have been available in cities such as New York and Philadelphia by the mid nineteenth. In the first half of the nineteenth century there is a renewed interested in classicalism which is seen in decorative arts and architecture. This bust [1] along with the Bust of Cicero was purchased by the Acklen’s son, Joseph at the estate sale for $35 and descended through his family.

Demosthenes has been recognized since the first century as one of the greatest orators. He was born into a wealthy Athenian family. His father died when Demosthenes was seven years old. His inhertantance was mismanaged by the guardians so he received nothing from the estate. The resulting trials begin is speaking career. His testimony was so compelling in these trails he was sought by others to try their suits. Starting in 355 he was involved in public cases. He begin publishing his speeches and delivering them in the Athenian Assembly.

About sixty speeches and a collection of letters make up the surviving body of his work; although some have questionable authorship. The speeches on the defense of Greece against foreign invaders have been an inspiration to many for centuries. His ideas were a source for the Federalist Papers, written supporting the ratification of the United States Constitution. He was much read in the nineteenth century.

[1] Robert Livingston Acklen Papers, Belmont Mansion Manuscript Collection.

bottom of page