ISAIAH THOMAS (1749-1831), 1859
Benjamin Kinney (1821-1888)
plaster, black paint
25 (h) (63.50)
incised on right side: 'Hon. ISAIAH THOMAS/Founder & first
the/American Antiquarian Society/By/B. H. Kinney/1859.'
Gift of Peter Mack Brown, 1975
In May 1859, Benjamin Kinney, a sculptor working in Worcester,
completed a plaster bust of Isaiah Thomas.(1) Kinney exhibited the
cast in his studio, and the local newspaper reported, 'It is with
degree of satisfaction that we are enabled to announce another
successful effort in sculpture, by our townsman B. F. Kinney. We
already noted the fact that he was engaged on a bust of the late
Thomas. The original model of it having been completed, he has
cast from it, which, since it was finished, is pronounced by good
the most successful of his works; and this is no small praise. So
is the likeness that it was instantly recognized by one of our
citizens . . . As a work of art, the bust is creditable to Mr.
talent and skill - as a faithful representation of [Thomas], it is
The public success of this plaster bust, which acquired a coat
paint sometime after it was completed, led to a second commission
the same composition, this time in marble. Isaac Davis, a member
American Antiquarian Society who had patronized Kinney earlier,
the marble bust for the Society in June 1859, while the plaster
in the possession of the artist. In 1975 it appeared in a private
in Washington, D.C., and was offered to the Society by the owner.
the offer, the director of the American Antiquarian Society wrote,
are extremely happy to have this cast to add to our collections .
To our way of thinking the plaster cast is more pleasing in that
is somewhat finer than the marble rendition, which we have had
| 1) Massachusetts
25, 1859, p. 2. For inspiration, Kinney may have visited Antiquarian
to study the American Antiquarian Society's portrait of Thomas by
2) Massachusetts Spy, June 1, 1859, p. 2.
3) Marcus A. McCorison to Peter Mack Brown, December 12,
American Antiquarian Society Archives.