Rodin Sculpture Conservation - Crown Point, New York


Rodin Sculpture Conservation - Crown Point, New York


On July 16, 2009 photographer Jack LaDuke documented the return of “La France,” a bas relief sculpture by Parisian artist Auguste Rodin. The bas-relief bust depicting Rodin's model and muse, Camille Claudel, was donated by the French government when the memorial to French explorer Samuel de Champlain was dedicated in May 1912.

La France was remounted in its niche at the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse in Crown Point, NY after being unbolted from the 72-foot-tall granite lighthouse in 2008, when workers began cleaning and repairing the memorial. It was restored at the Peebles Island facility of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The gift of the French nation to the people of New York and Vermont was conserved as part of a $2 million restoration project at the lighthouse and adjacent pier.

The Crown Point lighthouse is one of three "sister" lighthouses on Lake Champlain. The other two, Point au Roche and Windmilll Point were built in 1858. In 1909 the New York State and Vermont Champlain Tercentenary Commissions received permission from the Lighthouse Service to commemorate explorers on Lake Champlain and the lighthouse was converted into a memorial to honor Samuel de Champlain. In 1912 the Rodin scultpure was added to the memorial.

According to Charles Vandrei, historic preservation officer for the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the bust was coated with grime and suffered from exposure to the elements. After conservation work, the bust will be protected from further wear by using a heat-applied wax.

In 2006, Dr. Frances Chevalier, a Norwich University professor of French studies, brought the bust to the attention of Francois Gauthier, France’s consul-general in Boston. Gauthier then helped raise some of the cost of conserving the Rodin plaque.

On Thursday morning, July 16, 2009 a small crowd watched as the bust returned to its home. It was put back in place by conservator Jonathan Taggart after crews installed security systems to protect it.

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