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Sea, Wind and Stars: Dupont Circle’s Sculpture Fountain in Washington DC


Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont was a Union naval hero in the Civil War known for his navigation prowess. The three figures adorning the fountain’s base represent the Arts of Ocean Navigation: the Sea, the Wind and the Stars.

The Sea cradles a boat in one arm and a seagull on her shoulder, while a serpent plays at her feet. The Wind leans to one side, wind-swept. He holds a billowing sail in one hand and a sea conch in the other. The Stars holds a globe in one hand and looks down upon visitors. The marble sculptures are 8 feet tall.


This was not the first sculpture honoring Du Pont here. In 1884, a bronze portrait likeness was unveiled, but moved to Wilmington, Delaware in 1920, to make way for a grander more universal memorial. The Du Pont family commissioned sculptor, Daniel Chester French, along with architect, Henry Bacon. This famous duo also created the Seated Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln Memorial on the Mall.

In the three years I’ve lived in DC, I’ve never been sure how to spell Dupont. Turns out, I’m not alone. The city spells is Dupont. The Admiral used Du Pont. Family members go by Du Pont, du Pont, or duPont. No matter how it’s spelled, we heart DC (Dupont Circle)!


Sculpture: Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont Fountain, 1921
Sculptor: David Chester French
Architect: Henry Bacon
Material: Marble
Location: Center of Dupont Circle, NW
All phototgraphy copyright Julie Flygare 2012

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6 responses to “Sea, Wind and Stars: Dupont Circle’s Sculpture Fountain in Washington DC

  1. Pingback: BK Adams Wins East of the River Distinguished Artist Award: Arts Roundup - Arts Desk

  2. Pingback: District Line Daily: Drop in the Bucket - City Desk

  3. It is my understanding that the Admiral always spelled his name Dupont, (with the accent on the first syllable), because he wanted to downplay his family connections lest people assume he was exploiting his family name to win promotions. I’m a native Washingtonian, and until the last few years that’s how Dupont was universally spelled and pronounced.

  4. Thanks for the info. I knew nothing of the Arts of Ocean Navigation. Charming sculpture!

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