Thursday, August 22, 2013

Christopher Columbus


Christopher Columbus, 1933
Carl Brioschi and Clarence H. Johnston
Grant Park
East of South Columbus Drive and north of East Roosevelt Road

            Carl Brioschi (1879-1941), an Italian-born and trained sculptor, collaborated with architect Clarence H. Johnston on this elaborate monument to Christopher Columbus that was dedicated on August 3, 1933 (Italian Day) during A Century of Progress, the second World’s Fair held in Chicago. The celebratory speeches at the event included a message, read by the Italian ambassador, from Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, as well as a comparison between Columbus’ vision of a “new world” to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision of a “new society.”
            The 15-foot tall bronze figure of Columbus, holding scroll map in hand, is fashioned in the realistic manner associated with the Beaux Arts style of an earlier era, while the granite base, including a circular plaza and curved exedra, exhibits the more streamlined Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. The base features four shallow-relief roundels that depict Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria; Paolo Toscanelli, astronomer and mathematician who charted the course; Amerigo Vespucci, eponym of America; and the seal of the city of Genoa, birthplace of Columbus and city that contributed materials for the monument. Four carved figures ornament the corners of the pedestal, understood to represent faith, courage, freedom and “strength of character,” although the fourth one was the source of later controversy. The square-jawed figure bore some resemblance to Mussolini, but the artist’s son explained that it was intended simply as a “Roman head.” 

Other works that commemorate Christopher Columbus: 

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