It may be hard to believe, but this famous sculpture of Voltaire by the esteemed artist Jean-Antoine Houdon was found tossed in a cow pasture. A pasture just outside Monticello no less!
When Houdon sculpted Voltaire in 1778 the racy philosopher had just returned to Paris after another lengthy exile. It would turn out to be a quite timely modeling since Voltaire expired a mere two months afterward. The finished sculpture received the highest of praise for its realism and for capturing the essence of Voltaire. I imagine that sly, smug little smile graced Voltaire's lips plenty of times. Due to the sculpture's popularity, Houdon experimented with recreating it in different mediums and styles; adding Voltaire's famous wig to the original's nude ancient Roman style.
One of these Voltaire busts found itself in Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. The bust was in the the entrance hall to greet guests as they entered the house. After Jefferson's death Monticello, which was never fully finished, fell into disrepair. The home's next owner James Barlcay is rumored to be the one whom we can blame for placing Voltaire portraits in field. Rumor has it that Barclay, a rather unEnlightened individual born in the 19th century, saw the bust, declared Voltaire to be an "antichrist" and flung it into the field. I'm sure Voltaire would be flattered to know he still has the ability to ruffle feathers fifty years after his death.