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Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885)

Object Name: Statuette/Figurine
Date: 1867
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Medium: Plaster
Dimensions: Overall: 19 in. ( 48.3 cm )
Description: Portrait (full-length)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. Lewis Gouverneur Morris
Object Number: X.436
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Marks: Front of base inscribed: "USG photosculpture"; back of base inscribed: "Pat. Aug 27, 1867"

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While traveling in Paris as an art broker, James Steele MacKaye (1842-1885) encountered photosculpture, a mechanical method of three-dimensional prototyping invented by artist Francois Willème in 1859. MacKaye purchased the U.S. patent in 1867 and co-founded the American Photosculpture Company of New York City.

Subjects posed on a circular platform that was marked off into twenty-four sections; twenty-four surrounding cameras took photographs simultaneously. Clay, similiarly centered on a rotating circular platform, could then be sculpted by serially tracing the photograph silhouettes using a pantograph outfitted with a clay saw.

General Ulysses S. Grant was friends with MacKaye's father, Colonel James M. MacKaye, and the connection led to him being the first sitter. During the two years it was in business, the company also created photosculptures of Admiral David Farragut and Horace Greeley.


Bogart, Michele. "Photosculpture." Art History 4, no. 1 (March, 1981): 55-64.


Robert Lehman Sculpture Gallery, N-YHS, November 2000–December 2014.