Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Crusader: Victor Lawson Monument


The Crusader: Victor Lawson Monument, 1931
Lorado Taft
East central section
Graceland Cemetery
4001 North Clark Street

            Although Lorado Taft was educated in the Beaux Arts style and remained conservative in his approach through most of his career, this monument signals a slight shift in that he moves away from classicizing tendencies and complex compositions to a simpler approach to the human form, emphasizing its sheer bulk and smooth surfaces. A 10-foot high medieval knight wearing cloak and mail, featuring the cross of a crusader on his shield, the figure commemorates the “crusading” career of Victor Fremont Lawson, publisher of the politically independent Chicago Daily News from 1876 until his death in 1925. Lawson was a pioneer in the practice of sending reporters to distant locations to find news and he established a chain of correspondents that became the Daily News Foreign Service.
            Visitors to the site will notice that the grave and monument are unmarked, reflecting Lawson’s tendency to make anonymous donations to a variety of charitable causes. The impact of the work is accentuated by the surrounding landscape, replanted during the 1990s as part of the cemetery’s ongoing effort to recapture the design of earlier years, particularly the style of O. C. Simonds. He served as cemetery superintendent during the 1880s and 1890s and continued on as landscape consultant for many years.

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