Belle da Costa Greene

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Jo Davidson
Terra cotta.
11 x 7 x 5 3/4 inches (27.9 x 17.8 x 14.6 cm)
Purchased on the Charles Ryskamp Fund.
Signed: Jo Davidson / 1925 (proper left); marked: Belle / D'Acosta [sic] / Greene (ink rear).

A sculptor well known for his portraits, Jo Davidson made numerous busts of writers, artists, and political and military figures during the first half of the twentieth century. Among his most famous portraits are one of Gertrude Stein and the one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that is now in the FDR's Four Freedom Parks on Roosevelt Island. This terra-cotta bust of Belle da Costa Greene was recently rediscovered in the Estate of Davidson. Like many of Davidson's portraits, it was probably not a commission but one of the busts he made when he encountered people whose face he found interesting. Davidson may have met Belle Greene through publisher and bibliophile Mitchell Kennerley, who was a close friend of both of them, especially in the mid-1920s. This is the only known sculpted portrait of the first director of the Morgan Library.