Gar Travis forwarded this story from the Los Angeles Times about the recovery of a long-lost statue connected to Daniel Chester French, designer of the Pulitzer Prize Medal.
The bulls, each attended by a different goddess — one the Roman goddess of grain, the other a Native American goddess of corn — arrived at Garfield Park in the early 20th century, a time when Chicago was bursting with newcomers and proud to put big, new art in its grand, new parks.
The sculptures had been created by Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter as plaster models for two even larger bulls that ornamented the livestock exhibit at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
French had already designed the Minute Man statue in Concord, Mass. He would go on to create the Abraham Lincoln memorial statue in Washington, D.C., and to design the Pulitzer Prize gold medal. Potter, his student, modeled the lions in front of the New York Public Library.
In other words, the artists were a big deal. So were the bulls.
The "World's Fair Bulls," as they were called, greeted Garfield Park strollers at the entry to the formal garden. They were so popular that shortly after their 1909 installation, they were cast in bronze.
But by the 1980s, Chicago's West Side was suffering, and in Garfield Park, drugs and weeds flourished more reliably than art and roses.
It took a passing tour guide to report that the bull and the goddess of corn were gone.
Meanwhile, the matching bull remained, its base cockeyed, as if someone had tried to nab it too. Its tail had been hacked off, along with the goddess of grain's arm.
A $1,000 reward was offered for the return of the missing bull. It never returned.
Twenty-four years passed.
One day this February, Julia Bachrach, the Chicago Park District historian, opened an e-mail. It was from the head of a New York auction house, saying she had a curious item: a big bronze bull with a goddess attached.
The bull had shown up on an estate in Virginia. The owner had died. An appraiser had done some Internet research.
The Mystery of the Missing Bull may never be fully solved. But at least the bull is home. It will go back on display as soon as another mystery is solved: where to find the money to restore it.
"It's comparable to the lions in front of the Art Institute," Dajnowski said. "Imagine finding one of the lions. We found a treasure."
To read the complete article, see:
Solved (almost): The mystery of the missing one-ton bull statue
Wayne Homren, Editor
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