Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The tributary statue to Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC

The tributary statue of Marquis de Lafayette within his namesake Washington D.C. Square, resides on the southeast corner of the park. The sculpture was erected in 1891 and designed by two French sculptors, Jean Alexandre Joseph Faulguiere and Marius Jean Antonin Marcie. The ten-foot bronze impression of Lafayette stands atop a fifteen-foot white marble base. In the sculpture, Lafayette is said to be addressing the French National Assembly to plea for their assistance in America’s war of independence. Lafayette is dressed casually in civilian clothing to signify him as a man of the people. Draped over his left arm is a cape or cloak of some sort.

Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC
Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC

Lafayette’s likeliness originally faced the White House and was placed between it and the centerpiece of Lafayette Square, an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson. The statue did not remain there long, however, as the White House complained that it blocked their view of Jackson and the sculpture of Lafayette was subsequently moved to its current locale.

Along all four sides of the square base of the Lafayette statue are a series of added bronze sculptures. On the front side of the monument (south side) is a bare-breasted figure representing America offers up a sword to Lafayette. Working our way around the statue clockwise, on Lafayette’s left (east side) are two figures said to represent Comte d’Estaing and the Comte de Grasse of the French navy who came to aid in America’s cause as per Lafayette’s plea. Along the back side is inscribed a personal thank you to Lafayette for his services in the American Revolution as drafted by Congress. Lastly, along Lafayette’s right (west side) are two French army commanders, Comte de Rochambeau and Chevalier du Portail who also answered to Lafayette’s call for French assistance.

Lafayette is best known for leading his troops to victory at the Siege of Yorktown at which the infamous British General Charles Cornwallis finally surrendered in 1781, thereby virtually ending the Revolutionary War.