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What is the piece of clothing slung around George Washington's legs and right arm called?

Statue of Washington

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  • 2
    You can probably get away with calling is a toga.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 20:48
  • 3
    It's probably a toga, with the sculptor making use of artistic licence. (Image courtesy of david-decoteau.squarespace.com/competition/togatrot). Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 20:49
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    @agga His left hand is always his left hand, regardless of whose point of view you're talking about. And there's nothing on his right hand at all. Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 20:52
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    Didn't realise Washington was so ripped. How did he find the time to hit the gym so often?
    – mgb
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 21:15
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    @mgb He probably got that way cutting down all those cherry trees!
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 21:30

1 Answer 1

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For this sculpture, Horatio Greenough was inspired by The Statue of Zeus at Olympia that was a giant seated figure, about 13 m (43 ft) tall, made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia.

The tunic worn by Zeus is a himation, a garment consisting of a rectangular piece of cloth thrown over the left shoulder and wrapped about the body. It seems that, for George Washington statue, the artist took some liberty by putting the garment on the right shoulder!

Statue

Marble statue of Zeus showing himation being worn. Dresden -Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Skulptureensammlung 68.

Engraving from a work of Antoine Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy (Le Jupiter olympien ou l'art de la sculpture antique).

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  • did he take liberty or were the only pictures he had of one mirrored? :)
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 8:11
  • @jwenting - Mirroring was an unlikely possibility. Then, you forced me to check web images :(
    – Graffito
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 15:54
  • How do you pronounce this? I'm confused by "an himation"
    – Brad
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 16:31
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    @Brad - The word is so uncommon that I just read it and never heard it. So I don't know if the "h" is usually pronounced or not. But, most dictionaries mention "hi-mat-ee-on" as phonetic transcription. I edited my response accordingly.
    – Graffito
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 21:36
  • @Graffito I did wonder whether he might have been working from a photo printed through the back of the negative, but then I found that the statue (made in the 1830s) predates Fox Talbot's negative/positive process but not the daguerrotype process invented by Niécephore Niepce which was very new and did reverse images if no mirror was introduced between the lens and the metal plate on which the image was formed. If Greenhough did work from a daguerrotype he could well have been working from a reversed image.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 13:13

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