FELIX W. de WELDON, USMC
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Dr. Felix Weihs de Weldon, sculptor of the gigantic Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, D.C., began working on an Iwo Jima flag-raising statue in 1945, when he first saw photographer Joe Rosenthal’s dramatic picture of that event.
Then on duty with the Navy, the internationally-known artist completed a scale model of the scene shortly after the photograph was released, and before the year was over, had carved a nine-foot limestone statue of the group which now stands at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. The final 100-ton bronze statue was dedicated 10 November 1954, after more than nine years’ work on the subject – sometimes for as much as 19 hours a day.
In addition to that Memorial, he designed the monument to the 4th Marine Brigade which was unveiled at Belleau Wood, France, in November 1955. This is the only memorial in Europe dedicated solely to the United States Marines.
Felix de Weldon was born 12 April 1907, in Vienna, Austria, where he obtained his A.B. degree at Marchetti College in 1925. He received his M.A. and M.S. degrees at the University of Vienna’s Academy of Creative Arts and School of Architecture in 1927, and was awarded his Ph.D. there in 1929. Further studies in art and architecture took him to Paris, Rome, Florence and Oxford.
The artist first achieved fame as a sculptor at the age of 17, with his statue of Professor Ludo Hartman, eminent Austrian educator and diplomat. Since then he has designed more than 70 full-length statues and nearly 800 smaller sculptures, in addition to a large number of portraits, murals and other paintings. Among his works, which have been shown from Egypt to Japan, are busts of such notables as England’s Kings George V, Edward VIII and George VI; World War I British Prime Minister David Lloyd George; former Queen Alexandria of Yugoslavia; Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada; President Harry Truman; General A.A. Vandegrift, USMC; and Admirals Chester Nimitz, William Leahy and Louis Denfeld.
Dr. de Weldon came to the United States in 1937 and was naturalized in 1945. He passed away 2 June 2003 in Woodstock, Virginia, from congestive heart failure at the age of 96. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.