Sir, – In his piece on the prolific career and sad end of Launt Thompson, Oliver O’Hanlon mentions several of the Irish-American sculptor’s monuments in the US (An Irishman’s Diary, October 26th).
It is worth noting, with regard to his pedestrian portrait of the Civil War Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont (1884), that the statue was commissioned for what would become one of the landmark locations in Washington DC, Dupont Circle, until then known as Pacific Circle. Although the statue met with favourable criticism at the time of the unveiling, the family were never entirely happy with Thompson’s representation of the admiral, as a result of which the bronze figure no longer holds court in its original location.
Moved to Wilmington, Delaware, home to the Du Pont family, in 1920, it was replaced by a fountain, the work of renowned American sculptor Daniel Chester French, who was a friend to many of his Irish-American peers in the profession. Occasionally there are calls for the return of Thompson’s statue to Dupont Circle. – Yours, etc,
UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy,