The Garden Club of Virginia has installed a bronze replica of a garden ornament that once adorned the grounds of Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont.
The figure of a chubby nude boy, or putto, is a copy of an original wooden sculpture that former residents, artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne, brought with them to Belmont from their garden in Holland. It remained the focal point of the south lawn until it was weather damaged and brought indoors.
In 2008, the restoration committee of the Garden Club began the process to restore the wooden sculpture and commissioned Ross Caudill, foundry technician and adjunct faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, to produce a copy of the original putto and stonemason Richard Crickenberger to repair its pedestal.
The putto appeared in at least one of Melchers’ impressionist landscapes, and in 1927 it was photographed by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston.
Her work, including the photograph of the putto, is currently featured in the exhibition “Belmont through a Lens: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston” through June 20.
The Garden Club of Virginia also is responsible for the 1994 restoration of the grounds and gardens at Belmont, as well as subsequent projects.
Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by the University of Mary Washington, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center. For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum website at www.GariMelchers.org.