The Eugene Field Memorial (The Dream Lady)

The Eugene Field Memorial (The Dream Lady), 1922
Edward McCarten
Lincoln Park Zoo
Northeast of the Helen Brach Primate House
2100 North Clark Street

            A native of St. Louis, Eugene Field (1850-1895) moved to Chicago in 1883 to continue his career in journalism. He wrote a popular humor column called “Sharps and Flats” for the Chicago Daily News, and was particularly revered among children for his lullabies and poems. Not long after his death at the age of forty-five, a campaign began to commission a monument in his honor. Contributions came in the form of small change from school children as well as gift from the B. F. Ferguson Monument Fund.
            Sculptor Edward McCarten (1879-1947) worked with architects Delano and Aldrich to create this fanciful monument that includes a bronze portrayal of the “Rock-a-by Lady” from one of his poems. The winged figure holds a cluster of poppies in one hand over two bronze sleeping children seated on the elaborate granite base. In addition to the bronze figures, the exedra features carved relief panels with scenes from Field’s poems, including The Fly Away Horse” and “Seein’ Things,” as well as carved inscriptions from “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” and “The Sugar Plum Tree.” The drinking fountains on either end of the base are mounted and sized with children in mind.
            McCarten studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and American Academy of Rome and was best known for his work in architectural ornamentation. He received practical training from Hermon A. MacNeil, whose work included some of the ornament on the Marquette Building in downtown Chicago. For this piece, McCarten earned a Medal of Honor from the Architectural League of New York.            

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