Sculptor George Conlon was born in Lonaconing, Maryland, to a working-class family, and sought employment at an early age in the Allegany coal mines. There the aspiring artist was reported to have made a bust of Maryland Governor Edwin Warfield from the plastic clay that was used to plug holes in the mine walls. Impressed by the portrait, the governor helped Conlon launch his art career. After attending the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Conlon was awarded the prestigious Rinehart Scholarship, allowing him to study in Paris at the Academie Julian and the Academie Colarossi. While in Paris, he assisted Paul Bartlett in designing a sculptural group for the House pediment of the U.S. Capitol. With the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Conlon returned to America, where he continued sculpting.
It is said that Conlon admired Cordell Hull, and records indicate that after his return from France, the artist sought a meeting with the secretary of state to gain approval to model his portrait bust. Conlon was subsequently provided space at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for sittings with the secretary. Once the clay model was completed and Secretary Hull had announced his resignation in 1944, the Cumberland (Maryland) Evening and Sunday Times decided to honor Hull by presenting Conlon’s bust to the nation. In a joint resolution, adopted on December 4, 1944, Congress authorized the Joint Committee on the Library to accept the newspaper’s gift. The bronze bust of Cordell Hull was unveiled in the Senate Reception Room the following year.
Among Conlon’s public sculptures are a bust of General John Pershing at the National Headquarters of the American Legion in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a memorial monument in Biarritz, France. Conlon’s work also is owned by the Maryland Historical Society.