John Paul Jones
Portrait Sculpture Bust
Original Portrait Bust done in the Style of Houdon
John Paul Jones, the naval hero who served as the naval commander of the Revolutionary War, was Houdonís second American sitter in 1781, after Benjamin Franklin(1778). During the Revolutionary War, John Paul Jones harrassed the coast of England and Scotland in 1778. He was then given command of a French merchantman, which he re-built and christened Le Bon Homme Richard in honor of Benjamin Franklin, author of Poor Richardís Almanack. It was during the historic battle with the British frigate, Serapis, that Jones, whose ship was badly damaged, was asked by the Bristish captain if he would surrender. His famous reply was, "Sir, I have not yet begun to fight." He returned to Paris after his victory and was lionized. It was during this time that Houdon was commissioned to sculpt a portrait bust of the naval hero.
The bust shows Jones in his uniform decorated with the cross received from Louis XVI. Jones was a small, slightly built man. His qualities were captured by Houdon. The portrait shows Jonesí strong, resolute face, suggesting his intelligence and decisiveness.
An original Houdon marble bust of John Paul Jones is now in the United States Naval Academy. Jefferson owned a plaster copy and installed it on a bracket in his tea room in his "gallery of worthies."