De Weldon's Monuments | Great Masters of Sculpture

FELIX DE WELDON
April 1907-June 2003

Felix de Weldon is considered the last great master of sculpture. With more than two thousand public monuments, Felix de Weldon was not only the most prolific monumental sculptor in history, but until his death, on June 3rd, 2003, he was known to be the only sculptor in the history of the world with monuments on every continent (Admiral Byrd in Antarctica). He completed thirty-three monuments in Washington, DC alone, while his closest competitor completed only three.

Born in Austria in April 1907, his first giant step to fame was in 1924. At age 18, he received the commission to do a monument to commemorate President Hoover’s Children’s Relief in Europe (The Call of Youth). Upon its completion in 1927, he received worldwide recognition.

After earning his PhD in 1929, he decided to broaden his knowledge of ancient and modern art. He went to Florence and Rome where he had the opportunity to study the impressive works of Greek and Roman masters, like Phydias, Polyclitus and Myron, as well as the geniuses of the Renaissance: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Donatello. Next he went to Spain where he studied the works of Goya and Velazquez. Then he moved to Paris where he studied intensely the works of Rodin, Maillol and Bourdelle.

After studying archeology at Oxford, he settled in London. There he established his art studio and members of the royal family attended his first one-man exhibit. His bust of King George V was honored by being placed in the National Portrait Gallery and won him the title of Sir Felix de Weldon. He was invited to Canada to sculpt Prime Minister McKenzie who recommended de Weldon to travel to the United States. In America, he was deeply impressed by the friendliness of the people and extensive studies of early American art. He developed a deep understanding of the country and undertook numerous national as well as international commissions.

After proving his attributes as an artist, in 1950 he was appointed Commissioner of Fine Arts by President Truman, where he served in order to raise awareness of art and sculpture. Felix de Weldon was Commissioner of Fine Arts under five Presidents.

His love for humanity and understanding of the human condition prompted many organizations to seek his works.

He created national monuments, such as the International Red Cross Monument, which is a statement to the selfless actions of people who crossed borders to change lives. He also sculpted the International AIDS Monument to commemorate the lives lost to that terrible disease.

His love for humankind and empathy toward suffering inspired him to create the Peace Monument, a sculpture dedicated to the dream of a world without war.
Felix de Weldon was responsible for creating the most recognizable monument of the 20th Century, the Iwo Jima War Memorial, which is the largest bronze sculpture in the world to date.