Chicago’s Lions or Clothes Horses

As I turn my calendar to August, it is time to make time for things on the top of my summer wish list.  This includes a visit to see the travelling exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, the exhibit is almost halfway through its run and ends Sunday, September 29, 2013.

As much as I look forward to the exhibits, I always anticipate being greeted by Edward Kemeys’ (1843-1907) pair of sculpted bronze lions.  The lions in front of the Art Institute have become symbols of the city.  Earlier this summer workers fitted them with hockey helmets to celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championship.  During the winter, they donned festive bows.  In thinking about art and fashion, these two are often dressed for the season or special occasions.

I looked into who commissioned the two bronze lions while doing research for my recently published book, Grant Park: The Evolution of Chicago’s Front Yard.   Mrs. Henry Field, wife of the brother of retail magnate Marshall Field, commissioned the lions and made one of the largest donations in memory of her husband. The Henry Field Memorial Collection included some 40 paintings and was valued at $300,000.  Unveiled on May 10, 1894, the lions are in two different poses.  If you make your way to the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit, be sure to take a look.


About Dennis H. Cremin

Dr. Dennis H. Cremin is a history professor at Lewis University. The Director of the Lewis University History Center is also leading the 2022 Spring Lewis University Rome Program at the Lasallian Universities Center for Education (LUCE) in the Generalate, the motherhouse of the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Rome, Italy.

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