Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Christopher Columbus and Fountain


Christopher Columbus and Fountain, 1892 (rededicated 1966)
Moses Ezekiel
Arrigo Park
801 South Loomis Street

            The owners of the Columbus Memorial Building in Chicago commissioned this 9-foot high, 10-ton bronze statue of Christopher Columbus. Once completed, the work was displayed at the Italian Pavilion during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The next year it was placed in its intended location above the entrance to the building, formerly located at the corner of State and Washington Streets, where it remained until 1959. When the building was slated for demolition, the building’s owners asked the Municipal Art League of Chicago to find a new home for the statue. They received a number of out-of-state bids for it, including Disneyland in California as well as from groups in the cities of Columbus, Ohio and Columbus, Indiana. In spite of such interest, the statue was instead put into storage for seven years.
            During the early 1960s, Illinois State Representative Victor Arrigo (1908-1973) led the effort to raise funds for the conservation of the statue and its eventual placement in a new park, built as part of the Community Improvement Program, for the Little Italy neighborhood just west of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Campus. The bronze figure now stands in a granite fountain.
            The Virginia-born artist, Moses Ezekiel (1844-1917), was the first Jewish cadet to attend Virginia Military Institute and he served in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he studied art in Berlin and eventually settled in Rome and established a studio. His Columbus statue, depicting the explorer in a massive suit of armor and cloak, was cast in Rome and blessed by Pope Leo XIII. 

Other works that commemorate Christopher Columbus: 

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