Bronze Sculpture of the Whimsical Traveler ‘The Little Prince’ Unveiled in the Villa Albertine Garden & a Musical Play Celebrating 80th Anniversary of the Publication at National Arts Club

 

 

 

The Little Prince, sculpture by artist Jean-Marc de Pas. Image credit: Argenis Apolinario

Since Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s beloved novella The Little Prince was published in 1943, generations of children—and with them, generations of adults—have fallen under its spell. In honor of the book’s 80th anniversary, the prince himself has made his grand return to Manhattan. On September 20, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna unveiled a bronze sculpture depicting the whimsical traveler at the garden entrance of Villa Albertine, located at 972 Fifth Avenue. This project by French sculptor Jean-Marc de Pas was spearheaded by the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, in partnership with the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation.

In addition, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the publication of Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French author and aviator who lived in New York during World War II, the National Arts Club will host a musical play in French, Vols au-dessus du Volcan, is based on the correspondence between Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his wife Consuelo. The Event will take place at National Arts Club on November 21st at 6:30pm. Free with Registration.

A model of Le Petit Prince sculpture by Jean-Marc de Pas before casting in Normandy, France, which will be installed in front of Villa Albertine on 5th Avenue in NYC. Photo by Jean-Marc de Pas / Courtesy Villa Albertine.

The four-foot-tall sculpture was carved from clay and cast in bronze in one single piece at the sculptor’s studio in Normandy, France. The Little Prince will be perched on the garden wall of the historic Payne Whitney Mansion, facing Fifth Avenue passers-by at eye level. A Gilded Age architectural masterpiece built by Stanford White from 1902–1906, the building was acquired by France in the 1950s, and now serves as the New York City headquarters of Villa Albertine.

Photograph: Argenis Apolinario | Le Petit Prince the book inside Villa Albertine

The Little Prince is the most translated work of literature of all time, published in more than 550 languages and dialects to date. But few people know that The Little Prince was conjured into existence in New York City and in Northport, Long Island, where Antoine de Saint Exupéry lived from 1940 to 1943. The Morgan Library holds the original manuscript in its collection.

While dozens of plaques and statues around the world commemorate the novelist, this statue will be the first of its kind in Manhattan, a borough that Saint Exupéry left just weeks before the book’s publication. From New York City, he sailed to North Africa with one advance copy of the fable in his bag; fifteen months later, he disappeared at the controls of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning during a reconnaissance mission over occupied France during World War II, in the service of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces under the command of American General Ira C. Eaker.

A model of Le Petit Prince sculpture by Jean-Marc de Pas before casting in Normandy, France, which will be installed in front of Villa Albertine on 5th Avenue in NYC. Photo by Jean-Marc de Pas / Courtesy Villa Albertine.

The mission of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français is to honor exemplary French citizens and promote French culture in the United States. Hence their decision to commemorate Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s literary triumph and entrust this project to renowned French sculptor Jean-Marc de Pas. In his work, de Pas explores grace, linear harmony, and the expression of the inner self. Over the past 30 years, he has created numerous public monuments, including the bust of Saint Exupéry on display at the Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget.

At the unveiling of The Little Prince, on the left, French ambassador to the U.S., Laurent Bili (French Embassy in the U.S.) and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna. Image credit: Argenis Apolinario

“The Little Prince – a beloved cultural icon across the world and the perfect embodiment of France’s shared history with the U.S. – will be right at home on Manhattan’s famous Fifth Avenue. 80 years after the publication of this timeless classic, we are delighted to welcome the Little Prince to Villa Albertine, where thousands of visitors come every month to attend literary events and browse the shelves of Albertine Books. Now when they arrive, they will be greeted by this monument to cultural exchanges, creativity, and exploration – values that underpin everything that we do. The French Embassy constantly strives to highlight remarkable stories like this one that celebrate the close societal and cultural ties between France and the U.S.”Laurent Bili, Ambassador of France to the USA.

“We are all very proud that the Little Prince will now have a fitting presence in the city of his birth. This loving sculpture will undoubtedly delight New Yorkers and tourists of all origins, who will be able to sit next to him and gaze with him towards the stars. Some eighty years later, the Little Prince stands tall as a universal symbol of peace, wisdom, and care for our planet.”Thierry Chaunu, President of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français.

“New York is a city known for its diversity, its mix of different cultures. The Little Prince is a tale that celebrates the importance of such diversity and mutual understanding, which reminds us that as humans we are all connected, even if we come from different backgrounds. This statue is a symbol of Franco-American friendship, of France’s contribution to the universal values of the Little Prince. It will be an invitation for people walking on Fifth Avenue to sit by the Little Prince’s side, especially New York children.”Jean-Hugues Monier, Board Member of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français and member of the sculpture’s Steering Committee.

Designer Hugo Toro and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, inaugurating the remodeled Atelier redesigned by Mr. toro. Image credit: Argenis Apolinario

The Steering Committee for the sculpture project is composed of Thierry Chaunu, Jean-Hugues Monier, and Francis Dubois, respectively President and Board Members of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, as well as Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, Delegate General of the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation. The Honorary Committee is co-chaired by Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of a biography on Antoine de Saint Exupéry, and Olivier d’Agay, great-nephew of Antoine de Saint Exupéry and Secretary General of the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation. As an official partner of this project, Air France transported this sculpture of The Little Prince from Paris to New York

A model of Le Petit Prince sculpture by Jean-Marc de Pas before casting in Normandy, France, which will be installed in front of Villa Albertine on 5th Avenue in NYC. Photo by Jean-Marc de Pas / Courtesy Villa Albertine.

About the American Society of Le Souvenir Français

It is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 in New York to honor the memory of French soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives for freedom in the United States, and to strengthen the historic long-standing bonds of friendship since 1778 between the American and French peoples, and to this end: erect or maintain memorials and monuments.

About the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation

True to the spirit of the French author and aviator who defended a society based on respect for humankind, cultural diversity, cooperation, commitment and individual responsibility, the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation carries out various projects around the world to improve the everyday lives of youth and to help them attain better futures. This institution, under the aegis of the Fondation de France, was created by the heirs of the author of The Little Prince and his admirers from the worlds of aeronautics and literature in 2008.

About Villa Albertine

Villa Albertine is a cultural institution that supports exchanges in arts and ideas between the United States, France, and beyond. With outposts in 10 US cities—Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Washington, DC—Villa Albertine presents innovative programming nationwide including 50+ customized residencies for international artists, thinkers, and cultural leaders across disciplines each year; a series of cross-cultural dialogues and events; a magazine and podcast; and grants, resources, and incubator programs for professionals in the cultural sphere.

To the right of the sculpture, the artist, Jean-Marc de Pas at the unveiling. Image credit: Argenis Apolinario

About Jean-Marc de Pas, sculptor

Jean-Marc de Pas, sculptor, was born in Rouen in 1962. He graduated from the Beaux-arts de Paris and the Ecole Boulle, with a Ph.D. in art and art sciences. He opened his studio in 1989 in Bois-Guilbert in Normandy. For nearly 30 years, he has created numerous monumental works installed in public spaces, including the bust of Saint Exupéry at the Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget, offered to the Museum by the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation and their partners. His most important artwork is the creation of Le Jardin des sculptures de Bois-Guilbert, a large, remarkable, poetic public sculpture garden with 70 of his sculptures celebrating nature in Normandy

Be sure to view the Villa Albertine Fall Season which will spotlight Museums, Literature, Dance & Residencies.