HOUDON, Jean-Antoine

Versailles, Yvelines 1741 - Paris 1828

John Paul Jones (1747-1792)

Bust of John Paul Jones




Dimensions (HxWxD): 28 x 18 12 x 13 in.

under left shoulder: houdon f. 1780

Acc. No.: 31.874

Credit Line: Gift of Charles H. Taylor, Jr.

Photo credit: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

© Artist:


  • 1786, given by John Paul Jones to Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
  • By descent within the family to Joseph Coolidge, Jr. (1798-1879)
  • 1828, January 17, deposited by Coolidge at the Boston Athenaeum
  • After 1867, probably lent by the Atheneaum to Moses Kimball (1809-1895) at the Boston Museum Theater
  • By 1910, Charles H. Taylor, Jr., Boston
  • 1931, October 8, gift of Taylor to the MFA


  • Museum's website, 27 February 2012 and 20 March 2012
  • 1918 Giacometti
    Georges Giacometti, Le statuaire Jean-Antoine Houdon et son époque (1741-1828), Paris, A. Camoin, 1918
  • 1939 Pudelko
    Georg Pudelko, "A Marble Bust of John Paul Jones by Jean Antoine Houdon", Art in America, vol. 27, no. 4, October 1939
  • 1940 Munson Swan
    Mabel Munson Swan, The Athenaeum Gallery : 1827-1873 The Boston Athenaeum as an Early Patron of Art, Boston, The Boston Athenaeum, 1940, p. 164-167
  • 1964 Réau
    Louis Réau, Houdon, sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, F. de Nobele, 1964
  • 2003 Poulet
    Anne L. Poulet, Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 2003, p. 251-255, p. 254, repr.


  • 1951 Detroit
    The French in America, 1520-1880, Detroit Institute of Arts, July 8-September 16, 1951, no. 285, p. 115-116, repr.

    1993-1994 Charlottesville
    The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, Charlottesville, Monticello, April 13, 1993-October 24, 1994

Related works

  • Plaster examples:
    - Annapolis, United States Naval Academy
    - Musée de Blérancourt,
    - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
    - New York, National Academy of Design.
    Marble, Annapolis, United States Naval Academy Museum.
    Bronze, Paris, private collection.


  • Museum's website, July 22, 2011:
    A hero of the American Revolution, John Paul Jones (1747-1792) was called to Paris in 1779 to command the French frigate Bonhomme Richard, with which he won a famous naval victory over the British vessel Serapis. The Masonic lodge of the "Nine Sisters" in Paris, to which both Houdon and Jones belonged, commissioned this bust in 1780, in celebration of the victory. The bust shows Jones in the uniform of an admiral, wearing the cross (indicating the title of chevalier) which he had received from King Louis XVI. Jones ordered about twenty plaster versions of the original bust to give to important political figures and friends; this one was a gift to Thomas Jefferson.