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  Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection

 Thomas R. Marshall
(1918) by Moses A. Wainer Dykaar
 Thomas R. Marshall 

Born in Lithuania in 1884, Moses Dykaar studied at the Académie Julian in Paris before arriving in the United States in 1916. He moved almost immediately to Washington, D.C., where he began a long and successful career. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives James “Champ” Clark secured Dykaar’s services in carving his bust, and through this connection Dykaar was selected to create a marble bust of Thomas R. Marshall for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection. Several sculptors had sought the commission, but the vice president ultimately preferred Dykaar, and the Joint Committee on the Library awarded him the project in 1918. The Senate paid $1,000 for the work, $200 more than was customary because of increased transportation costs for statuary marble during wartime. In 1920 the Marshall bust served as the centerpiece for an exhibition of Dykaar’s work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and it was accepted by the Joint Committee on the Library later that year.

Marshall lacked the rugged or unconventional facial features that many sculptors favor, and Dykaar joked that perhaps the vice president had not yet found a “good five-cent cigar.” In a 1932 Washington Post article, Dykaar recalled that Marshall was a “nervous” model. The artist quoted the vice president as complaining good-naturedly, “You asked me for a sitting and you make me stand.” Dykaar then explained, “We call them 'sittings,’ when really they are 'standings.’” [1]

The Smithsonian Institution’s Inventory of American Painting and Sculpture lists more than 40 works by Moses Dykaar throughout the United States. His busts of Calvin Coolidge and Charles Curtis also are in the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection, and his marble portraits of House Speakers James Clark and Nicholas Longworth are located in the House wing of the Capitol. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., holds Dykaar’s likenesses of General John J. Pershing, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and labor leader Samuel Gompers.

1. David Rankin Barbee, “An Historian in Bronze and Marble,” Washington Post, 3 April 1932.

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