Plaster cast of a bust of Charles Dickens by Henry Dexter
This bust is a cast from an original sculpture (now lost) produced by Henry Dexter in Boston, USA, in 1842. Dexter was one of only two artists that Charles Dickens sat for on his first visit to the United States. Perhaps due to Dexter’s diligence and use of measuring aids, this bust is the most accurate portrayal of the author’s visage. Copies were placed on exhibition in all the principal US cities and wherever Dickens gave readings, there were agencies for the sale of it. Dickens was also pleased with the result and the completed work was lauded for its precise likeness by many, including his wife, Catherine. In the Atlantic Monthly October 1870, Dickens’s secretary George Putnam wrote an account of its production: 'in one corner of the room Dexter, the sculptor, was earnestly at work modelling a bust of Mr. Dickens. While Mr. Dickens ate his breakfast, read his letters and dictated the answers'.
Perhaps then, due to Dexter’s diligence and use of measuring aids, this bust is the most accurate portrayal of the author’s visage. Copies of the bust were placed on exhibition in all the principal cities of the country and wherever Dickens gave readings, there were agencies for the sale of it. There are a number of letters praising the artist for his work, including one from Catherine Dickens stating:
'My Dear Mr. Dexter,
I did not see you before I left Boston, and had not the opportunity of expressing to you how much I was delighted with your bust of my husband, which I think Is a beautiful likeness. I should much like our English friends to see it, and hope for an early cast.
One of Dickens’s most intimate friends Professor C.C. Felton also wrote to Dexter saying:
‘Ever since I saw your admirable bust of Charles Dickens, the best and most characteristic likeness that has ever been made of him, I have considered you the best, or certainly one of the best portrait-sculptors.'