>Please Don’t Hug the Houdon

>This past week Lafayette Elementary School in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, celebrated the return of its namesake to the school’s Great Hall. Named for the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, in 1932 the school was presented by a copy of Jean-Antoine Houdon’s bust of Lafayette by the French government. The bust stood for decades in the school’s hallway, but periodically would be taken into the classrooms for teaching purposes when the children were studying American history.

The original sculpture was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1786, and Houdon, the pre-eminent French sculptor of the 18th century, executed two of these busts in marble. One was placed in the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, and the other in Paris’ City Hall. The latter was destroyed by the Leftists during the French Revolution, along with a number of other sculptures by Houdon.

The Georgetown Current reports [N.B.: see PDF file of the April 28th issue] that recently, an over-enthusiastic Kindergartner wanted to give the Marquis a hug, and upon doing so the bust fell and was damaged. Parents of another student at the school took it upon themselves to pay for the restoration of the bust. In a ceremony this past week the city’s mayor and the French Ambassador, along with the students and faculty, marked the return of the statue to a more secure location, so that hopefully it will not be knocked over again.

One wonders what the future will hold for this young person, who was so struck by the image of Lafayette. Will he or she become a military officer? An historian? A diplomat? Regardless, the Courtier wholeheartedly encourages this child to continue to embrace art and history – albeit metaphorically speaking – from now on.