Sunday, September 22, 2013

Storks at Play (The Bates Fountain)



Storks at Play (The Bates Fountain), 1887
Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Frederick William MacMonnies
Lincoln Park Conservatory Garden
East of Stockton Drive near Belden Avenue

            The donor of the fountain, Eli Bates, was a partner in the Chicago lumber firm of Mears and Bates and Company. When he died in 1881, his will included a bequest for a Lincoln statue in Lincoln Park (now known as the “Standing Lincoln”) and for this fountain. Both commissions were given to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who enlisted his one-time assistant Frederick W. MacMonnies to model the figures and birds. MacMonnies had contributed the Triumph of Columbia, a barge of allegorical female figures, to the Grand Canal at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
            The fountain contains storks (or, possibly, herons) with outstretched wings and water spraying from their beaks. Bronze figures that are half-boy and half-fish are each struggling with unwieldy fishes amidst the jets of water. Sculptor Lorado Taft declared that, for “sheer dexterity and manipulation,” there was no American sculptor that could be compared to MacMonnies. 



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