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Historical exhibit is centerpiece of College’s celebration of Marquis’ 250th birthday

Sept. 6 will mark the official opening of the Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington exhibit in the Williams Center for the Arts gallery. The historical exhibition focuses on the close “father-son” relationship between the Marquis and Washington and is one of the main events in the College’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday.

  • A Son and his Adoptive Father Exhibit Opens to Rave Reviews

The College is planning a yearlong celebration during 2007-08 in recognition of the life and legacy of the man for whom it is named. In addition to the exhibit, which will run until Oct. 28, major events will include a lecture series, entitled Lives of Liberty, featuring renowned speakers, and a birthday party on Sept. 6.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.

The gallery’s doors will open for visitors at 10 a.m. Later in the day, from 3-4 p.m., historical interpreter Loic Barnieu will make an appearance as the Marquis de Lafayette. He will answer questions about the Marquis and provide some ‘living history’ for visitors. Also, from 3:15-4 p.m., the gallery will host the reception for Marquis biographer Lloyd Kramer. Kramer, the award-winning author of Lafayette in Two Worlds: Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolution, will present the day’s keynote lecture “Lafayette’s Historical Legacy: Politics, Culture, and the Modern World” 4:10 p.m. in the Williams Center for the Arts.

As part of the exhibit on Sept. 18, Diane Windham Shaw, special collections librarian and College archivist, will present a brown bag lecture, “Lafayette in Philadelphia: Two Vignettes, 1777 and 1825,” at 12:15 p.m. in room 108 of the Williams Center. Shaw is co-editor of the exhibit’s companion book.

Williams Center for the Arts gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; and 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit was previously on display at Mount Vernon’s new F.M. Kirby Foundation Gallery. After its run at Lafayette, the exhibit will move to the New-York Historical Society in New York City from Nov. 13, 2007-March 9, 2008.

The College is the primary lender to the exhibit, with materials drawn from its extensive collections of manuscripts, prints, books, memorabilia, and works of art. Other contributors include Harvard College, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Life Guard Society of Mount Vernon, Society of the Cincinnati, and Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

The exhibit focuses on four chronological periods: the Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, Lafayette’s American tour of 1824-1825, and the continuing legacy of Washington and Lafayette. Telling this fascinating story are more than 125 artifacts, including portraits of Washington and Lafayette, ceramics, silver, glass, weapons, jewelry, textiles, memorabilia, letters, and other documents.

Items from the College’s Marquis de Lafayette Collections include portraits, engravings, documents, a sword that belonged to Lafayette, china, glassware, medals, textiles, and sheet music. Many of these objects were produced as souvenirs during Lafayette’s 1824-1825 Farewell Tour of America. The paintings come from the Lafayette College Art Collection and include Thomas Sully’s portrait of Lafayette from the Farewell Tour and Jean-Baptiste Le Paon’s “Lafayette at Yorktown.”

The exhibit is organized by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in partnership with Lafayette College and made possible by the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, The Founders, Washington Committee for Historic Mount Vernon, and the Embassy of France. Additional support for the exhibition at Lafayette College is provided by gifts from Lafayette Ambassador Bank and Jere G. Oren ’50. Oren’s gift was made in memory of his parents, Samuel and Sophie Oren.

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