These busts, sculpted by the Lithuanian Moses Dykaar, who is here displaying his work, began from both the President and First Lady sitting for him over the course of a few months, late in 1923. They were unveiled in January 1924. The artist was known for expecting his subjects to be expressive and lively during such sittings. Coolidge, predictably, was not so obliging. But as Dykaar prepared to carve the finishing touches on Coolidge’s bust, he began to hear the President recount a series of jokes, even engaging in “pleasantries” with the sculptor Suddenly, the President said, “Now we will have some real fun,” at which Dykaar looked up just in time to see the President practicing various grimaces and wiggling his ears! How is that for expressiveness?!
This story, recounted in The New Yorker (September 8, 1928 issue) was repeated in May 1931 by David Schwartz in the National Jewish Ledger. It is interesting that Dykaar was not actually commissioned to complete the sculpting in marble until 1926. He would complete the work the following year and it was not until 1929 that the only bust to feature a living person was quietly installed in the Capitol. Ironically, one of the bust’s ears was damaged and promptly repaired twice, once when first installed and again in 1943. Dykaar would produce copies for both Amherst College and Forbes Library.