Richard Nixon selected Gualberto Rocchi of Milan, Italy, to sculpt his bust for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection. The artist previously had executed likenesses of other Republican leaders, including then-Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York. Rocchi, after six sittings with Nixon in the sculptor’s studio in New York City, sent the plaster model to Washington, D.C., for official approval in 1965. Nixon himself had already approved the model by letter, and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration did likewise on January 26, 1966. Although some senators expressed dissatisfaction with the Nixon likeness, the committee deferred to Nixon’s judgment, and the model was returned to the sculptor for translation into marble. Nevertheless, in response to the criticisms of committee members, Rocchi arranged a follow-up sitting with his subject and made modifications to his model. “With a fresh eye, after almost one year, within an hour’s [sitting] time only, I felt that the perfection an artist always strives for was achieved.... I should thank those Senators,” wrote Rocchi in a letter to the architect of the Capitol.
The marble bust was executed in Italy, and the finished work was accepted by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration in 1967. Because Nixon believed it inappropriate for his bust to be displayed before his return to private life, the work was stored. It was placed on view in the Senate wing in May 1979, at the same time the bust of Lyndon Johnson was installed.