The poet, writer, and Lithuanian diplomat Oscar Milosz was honoured on Sunday in Fontainebleau, an hour drive south of Paris. A statue made by the famous Lithuanian sculptor Klaudijus Pudymas and funded by the Friends of Milosz was unveiled in the garden of the city’s cultural centre.
Best known in Lithuania as Oskaras Milašius, it was in Fontainebleau that Oscar Vladislas de Lubicz Milosz died in 1939 at the age of 61. Shortly before his death, he had bought a house in the city close to the park where he enjoyed going for walks in the company of birds. The son of a Polish father and a Lithuanian Jewish mother, a family of small nobility, he was born in present-day Belarus, once part of Lithuania.
Milosz, joined the new state of Lithuania in 1919 as a diplomat. After the peace conference in Versailles in 1919, he became Lithuania’s representative in France and in 1925 an advisor to newly established Lithuanian embassy in Paris. He kept on producing poetry as well as writing books, including folkloric tales of Lithuania’s rich past. In 1936, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.
The Lithuanian Ambassador to France, Nerijus Aleksiejūnas and Fontainebleau Mayor Frédéric Valletoux and members of the Lithuanian community in France joined in the festivities unveiling the statue in the presence of the artist and local dignitaries.
Ambassador Aleksiejūnas said, “Oscar Milosz is not just a poet, but also Lithuanian diplomat who strongly contributed to the restoration of our independence 100 years ago. He is also inspirational example today what one person, not even living in Lithuania, can do for his country. His statue in Fontainebleau will further strengthen Lithuanian-French ties”.
Fontainebleau Mayor Valletoux in his speech said, “We honour today poet and writer, one of the great figures of 20th Century”. He added, “The statue allows us to remember Milosz’s work, until recently a bit lost in history. It also reminds us that Fontainebleau was between the two World wars home to a thriving artistic community, including Picasso and the American School.”
On Saturday, members of the Friends of Milosz and the Lithuanian community in France had honoured Milosz’s gravesite in the cemetery of Fontainebleau.