de Weldon, Felix

de Weldon, Felix

(1907–  ) sculptor, painter; born in Austria. Son of a wealthy textile manufacturer, he studied sculpture and by age 17 was getting commissions; he went on to study in Paris, Rome, and Madrid, and in the 1930s settled in England, where he became known for his many portrait busts. By the early 1940s he had moved to Canada, and in World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned as a combat artist. While stationed at Patuxent Naval Air Station (Md.), he saw the photograph (by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press) of the U.S. Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945; he set to work at once to make a 3-foot-high model; his commanding officer recognized its impact and asked him to make a 9-foot model (of plaster and stone) for a war bond drive; this then led to a commission to make (during six years) the 78-foot-high, 100-ton statue, cast in bronze in Brooklyn and dedicated in 1954 as the Marine Corps War Memorial in Alexandria, Va. He served on the U.S. Fine Arts Commission under presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. Known for his many portrait busts of presidents, kings, and other notables, he also did some 2,000 public sculptures—30 works are on view in and around Washington, D.C.—and reproductions of his works sell well; among his most popular is Humanity —a concave head of Christ with eyes that seem to follow you wherever you move.