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  Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection

 Schuyler Colfax
(1896/1897) by Frances Murphy Goodwin
 Schuyler Colfax 

Intending to commission a marble bust of Schuyler Colfax for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection, the Joint Committee on the Library requested a preliminary clay model from Indiana sculptor Frances M. Goodwin in 1896. Born in Newcastle, Indiana, Goodwin had studied with famed sculptor Daniel Chester French at New York’s Art Students League and at the Art Institute of Chicago. The former vice president’s widow, Ellen Colfax, liked the preliminary model Goodwin submitted. On her recommendation, the committee approved the piece, and Goodwin began work on the bust that same year.

Ellen Colfax visited the sculptor’s Chicago studio regularly, making suggestions that, as she put it, “will aid her in modeling a faithful likeness.” The Piccirilli Brothers of New York translated Goodwin’s clay model into marble, and the Joint Committee on the Library authorized acquisition in February of 1897. The work was placed on view immediately in a gallery-level niche of the Senate Chamber.

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