[KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD.] DE WELDON, FELIX. 1907-2003. Original plaster maquette of the last sculpture bust of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, modeled mid to late 1963, completed early 1964.

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Lot 319
[KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD.]
DE WELDON, FELIX. 1907-2003.
Original plaster maquette of the last sculpture bust of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, modeled mid to late 1963, completed early 1964.

US$ 150,000 - 200,000
£ 110,000 - 150,000
[KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD.]
DE WELDON, FELIX. 1907-2003. Original plaster maquette of the last sculpture bust of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, modeled mid to late 1963, completed early 1964.
Plaster bust painted in ochre yellow, signed and dated "Felix de Weldon 1963" at the base of the back of the neck in the plaster, and standing on a wooden pallet base, 16 1/2 inches high (with base 18 1/2 inches). Some light abrasions of the paint surface exposing the white plaster underneath, and more particularly at the extremities of the neck including wear to signature.
Provenance: The sculptor, Felix de Weldon; sold to a private collector in the 1990s.
Exhibition: "John F Kennedy; a Community Remembers," Bank Tower at Oak Cliff, Dallas, TX, 2013. The sculpture was unveiled on November 22, 2013 to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination and had not been exhibited previously.

THE LAST SCULPTURE TO BE MADE OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY. An important and unique plaster sculpture of one of the most iconic leaders of modern times, tragically assassinated before his visionary dreams for America could be completed. Felix de Weldon was an important sculptor in the post-war period, completing over 1,200 sculptures in 7 continents (one even in Antarctica). In addition to designing medals and medallions, he sculpted busts of some of the most important figures of the day. His method was to model the bust from life in plaster to create a maquette, and then create bronze versions, in small numbers, from that original.
De Weldon is best known for the Marines Corps Memorial, in the form of the image of the Raising of the Flag at Iwo Jima, erected just outside Arlington cemetery. His busts of Truman in 1946, and earlier in England in the late 1930s, George V, George VI, and Edward VIII, brought him to the attention of Jacqueline Kennedy when she was looking for a sculptor to do the official bust of John F. Kennedy in the spring of 1963. De Weldon came to the White House for sittings with the President on at least two occasions in the summer and fall of that year, but the bust was still incomplete on November 22, 1963.
De Weldon continued to work on the bust at his studio in Washington DC, and Jacqueline Kennedy and Dave Powers visited him as he worked on the finished bust. De Weldon recalls in his memoirs, "After the President was assassinated, Mrs. Kennedy came to my studio to supervise the completion of the bust. When she saw the finished work for the first time, she burst into tears. This was a very sad day. I remember Mrs. Kennedy wearing white gloves, walking slowly towards the clay model, touching the corners of the lips making the image a happier John F. Kennedy." In this period de Weldon also changed the attitude of the bust by raising up the chin as if to show the President standing tall at attention, and giving the image a more noble form. The maquette was finished and approved by Mrs. Kennedy in early 1964, de Weldon then started work on the bronze version of bust. De Weldon asked if he could cast an extra bronze bust for himself, to which Jackie agreed. Jackie arranged for her bronze version to be loaned to the White House after it had been on the traveling exhibition, and there it stayed for many years in the cabinet room in the North East corner and is in the background of many photographs.
On June 4, 1964, Jackie wrote to de Weldon thanking him for all his work and how much the bust captures her husband's force and life. She wrote, "I do want to tell you how pleased I am with your bust of the President, and when it is placed in the Library, I know it will serve as a constant reminder of the President and all he means to our country. The likeness is really quite remarkable and I do appreciate your letting me work with you during the final stages of its completion. As you know, the bust which you later cast, is now part of the Kennedy traveling Museum, where it is a most fitting addition to the exhibit."
In 1979, when the new John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston was finally inaugurated, Mrs. Kennedy had the Bronze bust moved to Boston, where it takes pride of place. Dave Powers, a close personal friend of JFK, and Special Assistant to the President, was the first Director of the John F. Kennedy Library. He once commented that the de Weldon bust was one of the Kennedy family's favorite images of the President.
De Weldon retained his bronze copy in his possession, alongside this plaster maquette, but due to some financial crises in later life, had to sell the plaster maquette to a collector in the 1990s. It is the primary and the prime version of one of the finest sculptural images of President John F. Kennedy.
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[KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD.] DE WELDON, FELIX. 1907-2003. Original plaster maquette of the last sculpture bust of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, modeled mid to late 1963, completed early 1964.
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