Like many monuments, Daniel Chester French’s relief sculpture in the 1917 memorial to the Marquis de Lafayette in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, passed largely unnoticed, even by historians, before attracting attention in recent years. A 2016 article by Summer Brennan in New York magazine, “The Invisible Black Man on a Prospect Park Statue,” zeroed in on French’s depiction of the unnamed “groomsman” tending Lafayette’s horse (the figure was characterized in French’s time as an “attendant,” “aide,” and, in one instance, “boy” and “servant”). Brennan was lamenting the alleged erasure of the black man’s identity from the record. This erasure was deemed all the more egregious because of speculation that the man might be James Armistead Lafayette, a soldier and former slave emancipated by Lafayette....


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