"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, July 27, 2019


This statue of the Comte de Rochambeau by Fernand Hamar stands atop a monument in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC. It is a replica of the 1899 original in Hamar's birthplace, Vendôme. The American version was dedicated in 1902.
“Comte Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vineur de Rochambeau (1725-1807) came to the U.S. in 1780 from his native France as leader of the Royal French Expeditionary Forces which took part in the American Revolution.” – SIRIS

F. Hamar

This Library of Congress photo of J. J. Fernand Hamar appeared on the carte de visite that was his ID card at the École Nationale & Spéciale des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

 On the front (south) side of the Monument is another Hamar sculpture from 1901 of Liberty disembarking from a ship carrying two flags (one for America one for France) and protecting an embattled Eagle with her Sword.

F. Hamar,  1901

The Library of Congress has this photo of Hamar sculpting the original of this group.

The Eagle


On the North (back) side of the monument is this inscription quoting a letter from Washington to Rochambeau.

We have been
Fellow Labourers
in the Cause
of Liberty
and We Have Lived
as Brothers Should Do
in Harmonious Friendship

Feb. 1, 1784 

On the base below that inscription we find the date of the dedication of the monument.

 By the Congress

The date represents May 24, 1902 though the roman numeral MDCCCCII is a bit non-standard -- 1902 is now usually written MCMII. This inscription was added in September 1902 in response to the  false belief that the monument had been a gift from France. In 1902, relations between France and the U.S. had been strained by the Spanish American War and the dedication of this monument was an important gesture of reconciliation between the two countries.  A photo, from Kiem 1907, shows the statue draped in an American Flag at the dedication ceremony.

The monument was unveiled by the Comtesse de Rochambeau.

Comtesse de Rochambeau (neé Rouxel)
“Wife of René, Comte de Rochambeau with her husband guest of the Government of the United States at the dedication of the Monument of Marshal de Rochambeau at Washington, on which occasion she pulled the cord which released the flag enveiling the statue.”  -- Kiem, 1907.
When the Comtesse released the flag it got caught draped over the Marshall's left arm, the one  holding a map of  Yorktown. French and American seamen rushed to remove it, but  President  Roosevelt shouted, “Leave it where it is! Leave it! It clings to the hero as he did to us.” The flag remained throughout the rest of the ceremony.
On the east side of the monument we find the Rochambeau coat of arms (d'azur, au chevron d'or accompagné de trois molettes du même).

The Arms of France are on the west side of the monument.

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