Monday, September 9, 2013

General Philip Henry Sheridan


General Philip Henry Sheridan, 1923
Gutzon Borglum
Lincoln Park
Near Sheridan Road at Belmont Avenue and North Lake Shore Drive

            One of the most dynamic and visual appealing equestrian statues in the city, this bronze portrays the Civil War hero “Little Phil” Sheridan (1831-1888), commander of the Army of the Shenandoah famous for rallying his fleeing troops after a surprise attack by Confederates in Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. Described as the Civil War’s most successful cavalry leader, he went on to become commander of Army headquarters in Chicago and was instrumental in maintaining law and order during the Great Fire of 1871.
            Paid for by the citizens of Chicago, the statue was unveiled in dramatic fashion on July 16, 1924, when Sheridan’s daughter Mary pulled away the flag to reveal the portrait of her father. 
          The artist, Gutzon Borglum (1871-1941) was born in Idaho to Danish parents. This was not his first equestrian portrait of Sheridan, the other located in Washington, D.C., and both demonstrate his skill in creating vigorous portraits in terms of both rider and animal. Borglum is best known, however, for four portraits that are among the most static one might imagine, the heads of former Presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt) carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. A member of the Ku Klux Klan  and a fan of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, Borglum described the Rushmore project as a "National Shrine to Democracy" but emerged from a worldview colored by white supremacy and notions of "manifest destiny." Borglum was working on the portraits when he died and his son, Lincoln, completed the project. 

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