- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 8, 2009


The hair is brushed back. The mustache thick and bushy. The eyes menacing. An infamous face from the 20th century is coming to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Richard Pumphrey, a Lynchburg College professor and artist, recently completed a bust sculpture of Josef Stalin, the leader of the former Soviet Union from 1928 to 1953.

The reviled dictator is fourth in a series of Allied world leaders sculpted by the artist for display at the memorial because of their mutual opposition to Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

Mr. Pumphrey has finished bronzed busts of Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt - all now displayed at the memorial.

He said he hopes the Stalin sculpture will be installed later this year, by Veterans Day. His next project includes Clement Attlee - Churchill’s successor - and Chiang Kai-shek, who led China’s military.

Stalin stands out as the most notorious figure Mr. Pumphrey said he’s had to create from clay.

“He was just a terrible person,” he said. “So the challenge is to embody the terror he instilled.”

Though he hasn’t received any criticism personally, he said the National D-Day Memorial Foundation has fielded public questions over the purpose of placing the Stalin bust on the site.

He compared leaving Stalin out of the lineup of Allied leaders with not including Judas, the betrayer of Jesus Christ, in “The Last Supper” - a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

“He’s part of the narrative,” Mr. Pumphrey said. “We may not like Stalin, but if he had not challenged Hitler on the Eastern Front, then victories on the Western Front may not have been possible.”

William McIntosh, the memorial foundation’s president, said the intent is not to portray Stalin as a hero, but rather as an ally who distracted German forces and played a part in the timing and unfolding of D-Day.

“He’s a necessary addition,” Mr. McIntosh said. “He certainly was a fact of life and a major ally during the Second World War - there’s nothing about the presentation that’s going to be flattering of Stalin.”

Mr. McIntosh said the piece captures his “venomous energy - like a coiled snake ready to strike” - but at the same time is not a caricature.

Mr. Pumphrey, 57, was in his early years of college when he completed his first bust sculpture of a fellow classmate. As a Lynchburg resident for 28 years, he has sculpted many pieces, from religious symbols to portraits of children, professors and Martin Luther King.

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