A story in Saturday's Style section incorrectly referred to the former Speaker of the House as "late Carl Albert." Although Mr. Albert retired in 1976 at the end of the 94th Congress, he is still very much alive.
The sculptress was there. Her distinguished husband was there. The congressman's staff was there. The reporter and photographer were there. And the congressman's bust most certainly was there, as it has been for the last three years. But the congressman was nowhere to be seen.
"He's got to come back," said Bill Hart, assistant to Rep. Melvin Price (R-Ill.) "He's in the Capitol somewhere."
Now this is, as they love to say in Washington, off the record. The fact is, Congressman Price has grown weary of the life of an artist's model. It embarasses him, a modest person, a retiring person (for a congressman). He has been known to hide out on the House floor -- where else? -- rather than face the artist's eagle squint, appraising, weighing, judging his every wrinkle, measuring each crow's-foot, remorselessly carving for the ages the downcurve of his mouth.
"The minute I saw him I knew I had to do him," said the artist, Fredda Brilliant. "I knew he'd be difficult, so introverted, I knew he'd be hard. Like Nehru. But he has the head of a Roman senator."
Working on the larger-than-life bust off and on for three years, she figures she's spent several months on it. She did the late Carl Albert in two weeks. On the other hand, it took her 15 years to finish a head of British playwright Christopher Fry (she kept the clay under an old overcoat, wetting it once a year).
Now the Price is ready for casting into bronze. Where it will go then is anyone's guess. Capitol Hill already has a dense population of bronze heads, not to mention marble heads.
Brilliant and her husband, the British film scholar Herbert Marshall, one of the three Westerners who studied with the fabled Sergei Eisenstein and a man intimately acquainted with the Soviet art world (his translation of Yevtushenko's poem "Babi Yar" was used for Shostakovich's 13th Symphony, for instance), were barred from entering this country during the McCarthy era.
It was Price, with help from Robert Kennedy, who cleared the way for them. Marshall, emeritus at Southern Illinois University, has been a Woodrow Wilson fellow this year. That's how the bust came about.
From 1950 to 1960, the Marshalls lived in India where the sculptress made busts of Nehru, Krishna Menon, Indira Gandhi and other Indians, as well as Eisenstein, Buckminster Fuller and many British artists. One of her trademarks, visible on the Price bust, is her way of suggesting eyeglasses.
When she finished the Carl Albert bust, his office arranged a press party and media whoopdedoo, so she was somewhat disappointed to learn that Price has no public relations aide.
He doesn't need one. He's serving his 18th term.
So there you are. Turn your back on publicity, and they make you immortal.