Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Mystery of DC's Voluptuous Nymph

We're strolling through DC after a delicious dinner at Rasika and come across this fountain next to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces:

(I didn't have my camera or cell phone, so this stock photo will have to do.)

It was dark when we saw the monument, so we missed any inscription on it. I had to depend on Google to unravel the mystery of why there was a naked chick statue outside the US Court of Appeals.

Here's the long (and well written) version of the story. The short version is that the statue isn't directly related to the Court of Appeals, but stands near Judiciary Square. The monument itself is in memory of Joseph James Darlington, apparently a lawyer and leader in the local DC law community. In 1920, his buddies got together and had the monument commissioned.

Nudity in monuments and such isn't exactly rare in DC. Heck, here's a top 10 list of sites that will appeal to your inner teenage boy. And the nudity in the Darlington monument was defended thusly: "[the statue] was 'direct from the hand of God instead of from the hands of a dressmaker," which is pretty clever if you ask me. None the less, our Puritan roots do show, as many folks aren't exactly comfortable with having statue of a nymph just lounging around. (In 1988, the Chicago Tribune described the statue as a "voluptuous nymph" - hence this blog post's title.)

Carl Paul Jennewein, the creator of the Darlington monument also created the Spirt of Justice which sits in the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. The Spirit of Justice is apparently so focused on justice that she didn't realize her right boob is hanging out for all to see. This dash of nudity triggered the purchase of $8,000 worth drapes to cover said statue. As you probably guessed, the statue was covered during a Republican term of office, the theory being that a naked chick wasn't really the ideal background when the Attorney General was addressing the country. And yes, the drapes came down when John Ashcroft was replaced by Alberto Gonzales. But, the controversy isn't over, Obama apparently put the curtains back up in 2014. Our squeamishness with nudity is hardly limited to one political party.

Mystery solved.

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