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  Senate Vice Presidential Bust Collection

 Gerald R. Ford
(Modeled 1984, Carved 1985) by Walker Kirtland Hancock
 Gerald R. Ford 

Gerald Ford selected sculptor Walker Hancock to execute his likeness for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection. The artist had earlier completed a bust of Hubert Humphrey for the collection. Ford sat for Hancock in mid-1983 at the Ford home in California; the sittings took place over several days, with the artist also taking photographs and measurements of Ford’s head. Hancock later noted: “I had meals with him and was constantly in his company, so that I felt that I was well acquainted with him by the time I left.” The artist wrote to Architect of the Capitol George White following the sittings: “He has a splendid head for sculpture, and I am fortunate in being assigned to model this bust.” The sculpture was carved in Washington, D.C., by Vincent Palumbo, master stone carver at the Washington National Cathedral, and was dedicated in 1985 at ceremonies held at the Capitol and attended by Ford.

One of the most distinguished classical portrait sculptors of the 20th century, Walker Hancock is represented by many important sculptures in Washington, D.C., including busts of Chief Justices Earl Warren and Warren E. Burger at the Supreme Court of the United States, and the monumental seated figure of James Madison at the Library of Congress. Two of Hancock’s works are displayed at the National Cathedral: a larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln and the figure of Christ above the altar. Hancock also completed a third bust, that of George H.W. Bush, for the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection. In 1981 Hancock was awarded the National Sculpture Society’s Medal of Honor, and in 1989 President Bush presented him with a National Medal of Arts “for his extraordinary contribution to the art of sculpture, and for demonstrating the enduring beauty of the classical tradition.” [1]

1. Donald Martin Reynolds,
Masters of American Sculpture: The Figurative Tradition from the American Renaissance to the Millennium (New York: Abbeville, 1993), 254.

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