The Alarm

The Alarm, 1884 (relocated 1974)
John J. Boyle
Lincoln Park
East side of North Lake Shore Drive, on axis with West Wellington Avenue

            Donated by Martin Ryerson (1818-1887), who made his fortune in the lumber trade and real estate investments, this monument was described as a memorial to “the Ottawa Nation of Indians, my early friends.” As a young man, Ryerson worked for fur traders in Michigan who dealt with the Ottawa and he learned their language and customs. By the time he commissioned this work, the Ottawa had been forced out of the Great Lakes region and he insisted that the depiction emphasize their peaceful nature and strength of character.
            The group includes a Native American male, standing alongside a dog that appears to signal danger, while his wife and baby are sheltered beside his leg. The artist, John J. Boyle (1851-1917) spent a great deal of time observing American Indians, most likely Sioux, in North Dakota in order to prepare for the commission. He was one of the first artists to base his depiction on observation rather than emphasizing the exoticism and partial nudity of the figures.
            The pedestal, decorated with out-of-place Greek triglyphs, originally included bronze bas-relief panels with scenes from Ottawa life, entitled “The Peace Pipe,” “The Corn Dance,” “Forestry” and “The Hunt.” After the reliefs were stolen and the monument was moved to make way for the new Ape house at the Lincoln Park Zoo, incised granite panels with the same scenes were added to the base.

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