P A R K E R a n d P A R K E R A R T
DE WELDON, FELIX
Felix de Weldon
Felix de Weldon, sculptor of Kings and Presidents, who has created more the 1,200 public commissions on seven continents from Asia to Antarctica, is most famous for the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
At age 17, de Weldon began his distinguished career in his native Vienna when he won a sculpture competition to memorialize Professor Ludo Hartman, founder of the popular night-school universities. At 18, also in Austria, de Weldon created The Call of Youth to commemorate President Herbert Hoover's Children's Relief Program in Europe. Later he sculpted the famous Viennese actor, Emil Jannings.
After absorbing the lessons of Classicism and the Italian Renaissance in Europe, de Weldon emigrated to the U.S. via England and Canada (he sculpted David Lloyd George and Kings George V and VI and Edward VIII in England, and Prime Minister MacKenzie King in Canada). Other international commissions include the bust of Madam Sun (Peking), an equestrian sculpture of General Calizto Garcia (Havana, Cuba), Battle of Belleau-Wood Monument (France), bust of Julian Hall (London), bust of Princess Alexandra of Greece (Venice), and the National Monument of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).
It was while he served in the U.S. Navy that he sculpted the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial.
He recalls that he was stationed at the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland when he saw Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's photo of the six marines who fought their way up Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi to raise the American flag (Rosenthal won a Pulitzer Prize and the monument became the symbol of American courage).
"I was so inspired I started to work immediately," de Weldon says. He had no sculpting materials, but, improvising with a mixture of floor and sealing waxes, worked non-stop for three days and nights to complete the three-foot-high model. It took nine years to get the monument cast in its 78-foot-high bronze state, and the rest is history.
De Weldon is perhaps best known for his extraordinary portraits, such as those of Presidents James Monroe, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.
The artist "rarely sketches, he just picks up the clay and does it," according to a de Weldon biographer.
"Every detail of the Iwo Jima is hand done," the biographer says, "He cares about the muscles, movement, and strength of the bodies."
Dean of America's classical sculptors, de Weldon looks forward to the future and says "the monument I like best is always the next one."
1990, Limited Edition Medium Bronze
250 plus 61 artist's proofs
17" x 19.5" x 15.75" x 2"