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  Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection

 Harry S. Truman
(Modeled 1946, Carved 1947) by Charles Keck
 Harry S. Truman 

In 1946, the year after Harry S. Truman became president, artist Charles Keck was commissioned to sculpt his bust for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection. Keck visited Truman at the White House, where he oversaw the making of eight photographs on which to base an initial study before he requested in-person sittings.

Truman’s friendship with Charles Keck had begun in the 1930s. As presiding judge of Jackson County, Missouri, Truman had secured the sculptor’s services to model an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, whom Truman greatly admired, for the county courthouse in Kansas City. Truman later displayed a replica of Keck’s sculpture in his White House office.

Keck completed his working clay model of the Truman portrait in 1946, following sittings with Truman in the Oval Office. The president and his wife gave their official approval, and after it was translated into marble, the bust was delivered to the Senate in May 1947. A bronze version was also presented to Truman for the White House collection, and the American Legion Headquarters in Indianapolis acquired another bronze copy. A Keck bronze of Truman is also located in the rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Charles Keck trained with leading American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and studied at the National Academy of Design. He later won the Rinehart Scholarship, allowing him to attend the American Academy in Rome from 1901 to 1905. In a long and active career, Keck produced many sculptures and architectural reliefs, now on view from upstate New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Working out of a New York City studio, he created several heroic statues of Abraham Lincoln; an equestrian statue of Stonewall Jackson now in Charlottesville, Virginia; and various busts and statues of politicians, generals, and other notable individuals. His Lewis and Clark group, also in Charlottesville, is considered one of his greatest monuments. The National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol contains Keck’s full-length statues of North Carolina’s Charles B. Aycock and Louisiana’s Huey P. Long.

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