John F. Kennedy
FELIX DE WELDON
F. Kennedy Bust
Bronze with granite base
Signed and dated 1963
18.5 h x 9.25 w x 11 d
In early 1963, Mr. Felix de Weldon was chosen by Jacqueline Kennedy to produce the sculptural portrait of President Kennedy that was to be a featured item in the Kennedy Library. In truth, there did not seem to be any question that Mr. de Weldon was clearly the choice for this major project, as it is fair to say that the artist has been accorded more honors than any other sculptor of the twentieth century. In the spring of 1963 Felix de Weldon began his work on the Kennedy bust.
The work was being created from life, as the President posed in the White House. The work was nearing completion when the tragic events of November 1963 occurred. The nearly finished sculpture was removed to de Weldon's studio where the artist was encouraged to complete the effort. Jacqueline Kennedy and Dave Powers visited de Weldon during the post-assassination days, adding their input that would help the work truly capture the essence of the late President.
The Bust of John F. Kennedy is surrounded by a great
deal of history . President Kennedy posed for Mr.
de Weldon twice at the White House shortly before
he was assassinated in November of 1963.
De Weldon used to remember: "After the President was assassinated, Mrs. Kennedy came to my studio to supervise the completion of the Kennedy 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 toward the clay model touching the corners of the lips, making the image a happier John F. Kennedy". This is the Kennedy Family's favorite image of President Kennedy and the official piece which graces the John F. Kennedy Library on Columbia Point in Massachusetts. Mrs. Kennedy wrote a letter to Mr. de Weldon complimenting him and thanking him for his achievement.
The de Weldon bust was unveiled at the then recently established Kennedy Library where Jacqueline Kennedy went from tears to an obvious moment of pride, touching the lips of the sculpture and telling the audience how it captured the essence of her late husband. According to Powers, then director of the Kennedy Library, the work reminded him of how the President looked upon hearing "Hail to the Chief".
Soon after Mr. de Weldon was chosen to do the Kennedy Bust, President Kennedy made his historic visit to Berlin on June 25, 1963 and made his very famous speech.
The words from this speech: "All
free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of
Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride
in the words Ich bin ein Berliner." greatly affected
Mr. de Weldon, inspiring him to capture the spirit
of John F. Kennedy.
On June 1, 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote the following letter to Felix de Weldon. Click here to see Mrs. Kennedy's letter.