The Richmond History Podcast

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jefferson Returns To His Capitol

Thomas Jefferson, Achitect of Liberty, photo by Jeff Majer

Thomas Jefferson, Architect of Liberty, Photo by Jeff Majer
If you have never been to the Visitors Center of the Virginia State Capital you should.  If you have been, then you now have a reason to return.  On May 3, 2012, a new statue was unveiled of our third President and the designer of the Capitol building called Thomas Jefferson, Architect of Liberty.  The bronze statue that is 117.5% life size, represents Jefferson at about the age of 42, about the age he would have been when he drew the original plans for the capitol.  As Mark Greenough, supervisor of the Capitol’s guides explained, it shows him in the middle of his career, with so much to come.  He has already written the Declaration of Independence and the Statue on Religious Freedom, and will soon become Secretary of State, Vice President, President, and found of The University of Virginia.

Right side showing some of Jefferson's achievements, photo by Jeff Majer
The 3 ton pedestal, chosen by Luck Stone Corporation, is crafted of EW Gold, a domestic limestone quarried in St. Genevieve, Missouri in honor of The Louisiana Purchase, the 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi acquired during the Virginian’s presidency.  Luck Stone chose the stone for its unique combination of gold, buff and grey colors that compliment the bronze of Jefferson and the Jerusalem limestone that that surrounds him.  Former Virginia Capitol Foundation Trustee, Charles S. Luck III and his family graciously provided this stone, while the statue was provided by the Thomas F. Farrell, II Family, the William H. Goodwin Jr Family and the Brenton S. Halsey Family.  Thanks to all of them.

The side elevation drawing he is holding
The nearly 8’, 800 pound bronze, sculpted by Ivan Schwartz and StudioEIS with artists Jiwoong Cheh and Production Manager BJ Ervick, spent 16 months in the making and depicts him holding the side elevation drawing of the capitol.

Replica of a Jefferson Houdon and one of the sources for new Jefferson, Photo by Jeff Majer
The statue evens the score with George Washington for the most statues on Capitol Square.  Washington has the Equestrian Statue outside, the famous Jean-Antoine Houdon standing figure and a black bust opposite of Henry Clay as you enter on Bank St.  Jefferson has the new likeness, the full body sculpture on the NE side of Washington’s equestrian Statue and a replica of an Houdon bust (one of the sources used for the new bronze) in the rotunda.  Greenough pointed out, Washington may still have the lead because he has the horse but it seem to me Jefferson’s building has got to be worth at least 3 horses… we will have to send this one to the judges.

Thomas Jefferson, Architect of Liberty, photo by Jeff Majer
The statue is on permanent display in The Virginia Capitol Extension Plaza and is free.  It is important to understand if you live in Virginia, and the state offers something for free… you are already paying for it, so take advantage.

Capitol Extension Plaza, showing the statue, a Jefferson Quote, and the skylight/ocular, Photo by Jeff Majer

For more information on the Capitol and for more information on the sculptors
The skylight/ocular from above ground, Photo by Jeff Majer


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