Mr. Felix DeWeldon
Imagine a man with a fine European education, widely traveled, fluent in a variety of languages; a man whose grace, courtliness and intellectual powers never fail to charm, and you will have some idea of Felix DeWeldon, the man. He is undisputedly one of this century's most important sculptors. Kings and Presidents have sat and been sculpted by him.
Felix DeWeldon first achieved public recognition as a sculptor in 1924, at the age of seventeen, when he won a national sculptor contest in his native Austria. After working and studying in France, Italy and Spain, the sculptor moved to England, where he studied archeology at Oxford, later settling in London. As the official court artist, Felix DeWeldon sculpted members of the Royal Family and many other prominent people in the British society, including David Lloyd George, Kings George V and VI and Edward VIII. Knighted in England and Italy, he is titled Sir Felix.
When he reached the United States via Canada (he sculpted Prime Minister Mackenzie in Canada), the sculptor fell in love with this country, its people, the ideals and its history. Mr. DeWeldon joined the U.S. Marine Corps and as a Seabee in the U.S. Navy, he was stationed at the White House and later at Expedition Deep Freeze in Antarctica, he subsequently became the official artist for Naval Aviation. President Truman appointed him Chairman of the United States Fine Arts Commission in 1950, and he continued through four Administrations and three Presidents.
In 1945, while serving in the U.S. Navy, Felix DeWeldon undertook one of his greatest and most famous works, which catapulted him to fame, the Flag Raising on Iwo Jima. Today it is officially known as the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, displayed in Washington DC. He completed it nine years later in 1954. The memorial is just one of 15 DeWeldon sculptures in the Washington, D.C. area, with a total of 30 works throughout the capital. Among his most famous endeavors, is the official bust of the late President John F. Kennedy, commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy herself. De Weldon states, "After the President was assassinated, Mrs. Kennedy came to my studio to supervise the completion of the Kennedy bust. When she saw the finished work for the first time, she burst into tears." He recalls he was stationed at the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland when he saw the Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer prize photograph of the six marines who fought their way up Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi to raise the American Flag. He was so moved he began sculpting immediately. The 78 foot-high masterpiece, with every detail hand completed, is the largest sculpture cast in bronze and it is visited by literally hundreds of thousands of people each year. He views this memorial as his symbol of unity, action and determination, the will to sacrifice and the dedication to maintain peace and freedom and to hold our flag high. This memorial is by far the most recognizable monument in the history of the world.
Felix DeWeldon has created more than 2000 public monuments, displayed on all seven continents from Asia to America, more monuments than any sculptor in the history of the world. During the past fifty years as a world renowned artist he has produced an impressive body of work ranging from great monuments to busts of distinguished people to beautiful religious works. Many important people such as Presidents and dignitaries have sat for DeWeldon in an official capacity. He sculpted George Washington-- displayed in Australia, Admiral Byrd-- displayed in Antarctica, Simon Bolivar, General Pershing, and President Eisenhowerdisplayed in Washington DC and President Trumandisplayed in Independence, Missouri. His well known bust of John F. Kennedy is prominently displayed in the Kennedy Library in Boston, and many others sculptures grace the halls of the White House, the United States Capitol, parks and plazas and other prominent locations worldwide.
In Washington, DC alone, there are over 30 of his monuments, which is more than any sculptor in history. They range from the equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar near the Pan American Union to the marble replicate of Michelangelo's "Pieta" in St. Matthew's Cathedral. De Weldon was commissioned to sculpt the National Monument of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpar, the bust of Madame Sun in Peking, an equestrian sculpture of General Calizto Garcia in Cuba, the Battle of Belleau-Wood monument in France, the bust of Julian Hall in London, and bust of Princess Alexandra of Greece in Venice.
De Weldon has been referred to as the artist to presidents and kings. He is a monumental artist on the grand scale, whose name and works are world renowned. He is ranked in the company of masters such as Michelangelo and Rodin. Felix DeWeldon, a master of the 20th century, is one who is able to turn the suffering of people into visual memories, not to be forgotten. He one of the greatest sculptors of our time.