Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lions



Lions, 1893 (recast in bronze 1894)
Edward Kemeys
West entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue at Adams Street

            Part of more than thirty-five plaster models of native American wildlife produced by Edward Kemeys (1843-1907) and A. P. Proctor for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the plaster versions of these lions originally flanked the entrance to the Fine Arts Palace (now the Museum of Science and Industry). Bronze recastings of Kemeys’ two Bison from the Exposition are featured at the east entrance to the formal garden at Humboldt Park.
            After viewing the Lions at the 1893 Fair, Mrs. Henry Field donated funds to have them recast in bronze and installed at the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago building in Grant Park. Serving as both a sensitive portrayal of wild animals and an example of guardian figures, in the tradition of Assyrian lamassu and the Egyptian Sphinx, these lions are among the best-known and most-beloved sculptures in the city. Kemeys, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, explained that the south lion was “attracted by something in the distance which he is closely watching” and that the north lion was “ready for a roar and a spring.”

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