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Hero gains new polish in Union Square Park.

Hero gains new polish in Union Square Park

A decade before Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty was presented to America by the citizens of France, another important monument to freedom - also by Bartholdi and also a gift from France - was unveiled in Union Square. On Sept. 6, 1876, the Marquis de Lafayette, cast nobly in bronze, joined the venerable bronzes of George Washinton and Abraham Lincoln in the historic park.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, 1991 - 115 years later - the Marquis de Lafayette monument will be rededicated, having been restored to its former glory through a grant from the Grand Marnier Foundation, an American-based organization with French ties. Scheduled to participate in the ceremony are Deputy Mayor Barbara J. Fife; Jacques Andreani, French Ambassador to the United States; Parks & Recreation Commissioner Betsy Gotbaum; Michel Roux, chairman of the Grand Marnier Foundation and Jonathan Fanton, president of the New School and co-chair, Union Square Development Corporation.

Kent Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society and Vivian Millicent Warfield, executive director of the Art Commission, are also slated to attend.

The ceremony, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., will be followed by a free concert of French music performed by a 20-piece chamber orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music. soth the ceremony and concert are open to the public and will take place at the base of the Lafayette monument, located at the east side of Union Square Park between 15th and 16th Streets.

The Marquis de Lafayette monument has been restored by the Foundation through the Adopt-A-Monument program, a joint project of the Municipal Art Society of New York, the Art Commission of the City of New York and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

It was, in fact, the restoration of sartholdi's masterpiece, The Statue of Liberty, that served as a prototype for rescuing New York City's decaying public monuments. In 1987, because of limited fiscal resources for conservation, the Municipal Art Society, Art Commission and Parks Department initiated the Adopt-A-Monument Program to enlist private funds in aid of public art.

The Grand Marnier Foundation, under the direction of the French-born Michel Roux, was the first to respond, and its October 1987 unveiling of the Joan of Arc monument in Riverside Park launched the program that has now rescued nearly thirty major works in this "museum without walls" that is New York City.

Like the two previous Grand Marnier Foundation "adoptees," (the restored Bronx World War I Monument was rededicated in 1988) the Marquis de Lafayette is a tribute to French-American friendship. The first statue in the United States to honor Lafayette's role in the American Revolution, the monument was a gift of the French government in recognition of American aid during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The granite pedestal, designed by Bartholdi's friend Henri de Stuckle, engineer of New York's waterworks, was paid for by French residents of New York.

The 10-foot-tall bronze portrays the youthful hero offering his sword to the young Republic of the United States. Wearing an eighteenth-century uniform, Lafayette is depicted in wig, epaulets and boots, with an ample cloak falling in folds from his left shoulder. With his left arm extended and his right hand bracing the sword to his breast, the General appears to be echoing the eloquent words inscribed on the statue's base: "As soon as I heard of American Independence, my heart was enlisted."

For the base, Stuckle created a simple, light grey granite pedestal tapering up from three square steps. A handsome polished pattern of ivy leaves and floral garlands provided a decorative contrast to the matte surface.

PHOTO : Bartholdi's Marquis de Lafayette was unveiled in September. Restored by the Grand Marnier Foundation through the Adopt-A = Monument program, the Marquis de Lafayette will be rededicated to the City of New York on October 3, 1991.
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Title Annotation:Marquis de Lafayette statue
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 25, 1991
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