Samuel F. Dupont (1803-1865) was a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War who was honored by the U.S. Congress by having the traffic circle in Washington D.C. created by the intersection of Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenues named "Dupont Circle." Dupont's capture of Fort Royal, South Carolina in 1861 was the first naval victory by Union forces during the Civil War, however after he failed in 1863 to capture Charleston, South Carolina (in what was the Union navy's worst naval defeat), he resigned his commission. In 1882, a statue of Dupont was erected in the small park which was created by the circle but in 1917, members of the Dupont family felt a different kind of memorial would be better suited to memorialize Samuel Dupont. The U.S. Congress approved the family's request and subsequently Daniel Chester French was commissioned to sculpt the new memorial. Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial along with French, worked with French on the architecture for what was to become a fountain.
French chose to honor Dupont with three statues, representing "Sea, Wind and Sky." The fountain, which empties on three sides, is surrounded with a raised marble border around which is inscribed:
The Dupont Memorial was dedicated on May 17, 1921. It contains three of French's most remarkable allegorical human forms. The serenity of Sky, the beauty of Sea and the athletic power of Wind all call to mind the life of the sailor who interacts with each of the three forces every minute. While the fountain is in need of repair (due to staining by the water, graffiti and the droppings of ubiquitous pigeons), French's Memorial remains a dramatic work in contrast to its utterly urban setting.
All photos below were taken by Douglas Yeo in June, 2004.
|Dupont Circle (the intersection of Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenues in Washington, D. C.), showing French's Memorial fountain in situ.|
|A view of French's Dupont Memorial; the view is toward "Sea."|
|A view of French's "Sea." Note the ship's hull in her right hand, the seagull perched on her left shoulder and the fish at her feet. The face of "Sea" is one of remarkable beauty.|
|A closeup view of "Sea."|
|A view of French's "Wind." He stands astride a sailing ship, guiding its sail; his left hand grips a shell.|
|A closeup view of "Wind."|
|A view of French's "Sky." She holds the earth in her left hand and is enfolded with a canopy of stars.|
|A closeup view of "Sky."|
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