Jo Davidson

Jo Davidson (1883 - 1952), was a renowned American artist who worked mostly in portraiture sculpture.  He was my grandfather.  


Jo Davidson made around 450 portraits in his lifetime, a feat that may never have been duplicated to this day.  The subjects of these portraits were from all walks of life.  They were historical figures, presidents, writers, thinkers, artists, politicians, generals, socialites, actors and anybody whose faces inspired him.   In 2006, The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery opened a permanent exhibition, "Jo Davidson: Biographer in Bronze", showcasing fourteen of his works in terracotta and bronze.  He also did heroic and life-size figurative sculptures in bronze and stone.  Most noteworthy are Will Rogers and Robert LaFollette in the Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Congress.


Becheron in Saché, France

Jo Davidson bought Becheron in Saché, France in 1926 for weekends and holidays away from his studio in Paris.  My parents took over Becheron after my grandfather's death in 1952.  I will never forget my grandfather's studio filled with busts of all sizes.

Jo Davidson in his studio. 

In the top photo is the heroic size bust of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that is now on display at the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City, on the right is a bronze model of the lifesize bronze of Walt Whitman that is in Bear Mountain State Park in Bear Mountain, NY.  In the photo below, along the wall of shelves is a sampling of the over 450 busts he made in his lifetime. A few pictured below are Will Rogers, John D. Rockfeller, Gertrude Stein.

Standing sculpture of Will Rogers that is on display in the Statuary Hall in the United States Congress where reporters like to interview members of Congress and many like to touch his left toe for good luck

Jo Davidson and his just finished clay portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House.  

Helen Keller and Jo Davidson in 1945

Helen Keller and Jo were very close friends. 
Here she is photographed "looking" at her portrait 
with her hands. The portrait is wonderful and 
captures Helen Keller's enthusiastic spirit. 

This photo was taken at the Stork Club in New York 
City.  Jo is signing into Helen Keller's hand.  She loved 
to feel the vibration of the music through the floor.

  Gertrude Stein and Jo Davidson in 1922  (photo by Man Ray)  Jo was friends with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

 Charlie Chaplin and Jo Davidson in 1924