Since the publication of Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s famous tale, “The Little Prince”, in 1943, several generations of children and adults have been captivated by its story. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of this world-famous literary work, the Little Prince himself is making his grand return to Manhattan.
On 20 September, Catherine Colonna, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Olivier d’Agay, grand-nephew of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, unveiled the bronze sculpture of the Little Prince at the entrance to the garden of the Villa Albertine, the French bookshop and headquarters of the cultural services of the French Embassy in the United States, located at 972 Fifth Avenue.
The project, created by French sculptor Jean-Marc de Pas, was made possible through a collaboration between the American Society of Le Souvenir Français and the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation.
The 1m20 sculpture was sculpted in clay and cast in bronze in a single piece in the sculptor’s studio in Normandy, France. The Little Prince has been installed in the garden of the historic Payne Whitney Mansion, facing passers-by on Fifth Avenue. A Gilded Age architectural masterpiece built by Stanford White between 1902 and 1906, the building was acquired by France in the 1950s and now serves as the New York headquarters of the Villa Albertine.
“This statue is amazingly successful with a Little Prince who is both innocent and clever,” explains Olivier d’Agay, grand-nephew of Antoine de Saint Exupéry in Ouest France, “The Little Prince is an ambassador of hope, culture, childhood, protection of the planet.”
While dozens of plaques and statues around the world commemorate the author of The Little Prince, this statue is the first of its scale in Manhattan, an area Saint Exupéry left just a few weeks before the book was published.
The mission of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français is to honor exemplary French citizens and promote French culture in the United States, so it was decided to commemorate Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s literary triumph and entrust the project to the renowned French sculptor Jean-Marc de Pas. In his work, the artist 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 Antoine de Saint Exupéry on display at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace at Le Bourget.
The steering committee for the sculpture project is made up of Thierry Chaunu, Jean-Hugues Monier and Francis Dubois, respectively President and members of the Board of Directors of the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, and Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, Managing Director of the Fondation Antoine de Saint Exupéry pour la Jeunesse. 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, grand-nephew of Antoine de Saint Exupéry and Secretary General of the Fondation Antoine de Saint Exupéry pour la Jeunesse. As an official partner of this project, Air France transported this sculpture of the Little Prince from Paris to New York.
Cr.photo: Argenis Apolinario