Champ Clark bust among art damaged at Capitol

Champ Clark is shown with the bust portraying his likeness. It was among examples of damaged art after a violent protest at the U.S. Capitol last week. Smithsonian Institute officials are currently working to repair the bust and other damaged artwork.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The statue of a Northeast Missouri man who almost became president was among artwork damaged during a siege at the Capitol last week.

The extent of harm to the Champ Clark bust was not immediately clear. Representatives of the group that oversees Clark’s historic home in Bowling Green were notified Friday, two days after the violence.

A representative said the bust and several others were doused with corrosive materials and had been taken to the Smithsonian Institution for repair.

“It has been reported that a bust of Bowling Green’s Champ Clark was damaged during the mob violence that took place in our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6,” said Larry Twellman, board president of Champ Clark Honey Shuck Restoration Inc. “We regret the mindless behavior of those who invaded and damaged our seat of government. Those who participated should be held liable.”

The statue was one of the first of government leaders designed by Russian immigrant Moses Dykaar. Clark, who came within an eyelash of winning the 1912 Democrat presidential nomination that went to Woodrow Wilson, agreed to multiple sittings for the 34-year-old artist from April to July 1918. Dykaar sculpted the clay replica and the finished marble in Clark’s Capitol Hill office.

“I put a lot of time on it—two months on the clay model alone, and was just as slow with the marble,” said Dykaar, who had been in America for only a year.

The project attracted the attention of newspapers nationwide.

“It is considered a remarkable likeness,” reported the Washington Evening Star. The American Jewish World said it was “receiving considerable favorable attention.” Others ran a headline over a photo of Clark and the completed piece that said “When Champ Clark meets Champ, Why One Says “Howdy,” Other One is Mum.”

In his 1927 book “Art and Artists of the Capitol,” author Charles Fairman called the sculpture “a clever likeness of the former Speaker” and said it showed his “calm attitude so often noted at times when the merits of a question were being determined in something of a judicial manner.”

The bust – which measures 25 inches tall by 24 inches wide and a little over a foot thick – was formally dedicated in 1925 in the main corridor between the House Chambers and Statutory Hall.

It originally was erected across from a marble likeness of Illinois Republican James Mann, who had been House Minority Leader while Clark was Speaker and a good friend of the Missourian. The placement was designed to show the bi-partisanship the two men had displayed. Both had died by then. The busts were moved in 1935 to near the House press gallery.

In a somewhat eerie notice given the January 6th violence almost 100 years later, the Evening Star said in 1925 that plans to erect the Clark and Mann statues were being rushed so that “they will be in place before the inaugural throng storms the Capitol” for the swearing in of Calvin Coolidge. There was no violence during the Republican’s inaugural.

A damage assessment of Capitol artwork was continuing.

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