Thursday, September 26, 2013

Carl von Linné Monument


Carl von Linné Monument, 1891 (relocated 1976)
Frithiof Kjellberg
Midway Plaisance
South of East 59th Street between South Ellis and South University Avenues

            This fifteen-foot tall bronze portrait of Swedish naturalist and botanist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) is a copy of a monument located in the Humlegarden in Stockholm. There has been confusion regarding the name of the sculptor, formerly listed as (Carl) Johan Dyfverman, as well as the intended meaning behind the four lost female allegorical figures. The Chicago Park District credits the piece to Frithiof Kjellberg (1836-1885) and the replica was unveiled on May 23, 1891 in Lincoln Park. The Swedish community of Chicago raised more than $18,000 to fund the project.
            Originally situated within an open green area in Lincoln Park, when the extension of Fullerton Avenue was completed in the 1940s, the statue found itself at the edge of the new roadway and it suffered repeated acts of vandalism. The female allegorical figures, which may have been muses to four branches of knowledge (philosophy, zoology, medicine, and geology) or representations of the four seasons, were repeatedly mutilated, resulting in the loss of some of their arms. During the early 1970s, the Central Swedish Committee proposed the idea of moving the monument to Midway Plaisance, despite protests from Lincoln Park citizens’ groups. The piece was moved in time for a visit from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden to the University of Chicago in 1976 and he rededicated the monument. The four small platforms remain empty because the female forms, placed in storage as they awaited repair, have gone missing.
            Linné, known to science as Carolus Linneaus, was the first person to frame principles for defining natural genera and species of organisms and to create a uniform system for naming them. He is depicted in the outfit that he wore during his travels in the countryside and is holding a book, representing his numerous publications, and a flower that he discovered and named Linnaea borealis.

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