Have you ever seen a Lorado Taft sculpture? If not, you are missing out!
Today my mom and I stopped in Elmwood, Illinois where Lorado Taft was born on April 29, 1860. We saw two beautiful sculptures in town, while we were there, one at the local cemetery is called “Memory” and is a replica of an original cast bronze statue titled “Foote Memorial Angel” which is located in Woodland Cemetery in Jackson Michigan. This statue was one of Lorado Taft’s wife’s favorites and was dedicated to his honor at this his eternal resting place on April 29, 1938.
The second statue we saw was located on the square downtown and is called “The Pioneers”. The work is a tribute to the men and women who, “subdued the soil and founded a state”.
Taft created the sculpture as a gift to the community of Elmwood.
The sculptor was born Lorado Zadoc Taft and he was also an educator and writer. Born in Elmwood, his father was a professor of geology at what is now University of Illinois but then was called the Illinois Industrial University. Taft was homeschooled and then earned both a bachelors and master’s degree. After his MA he went to Paris and studied sculpture.
After returning to the US he settled in Chicago and and taught at the Art Institute of Chicago until 1929. He worked in clay and plaster and taught marble carving. He also lectured at the University of Chicago and University of Illinois.
While known for his writings and education, it is his sculptures that are remembered. There is his Lincoln the Lawyer at Urbana, Illinois, Eternal Silence at Graceland Cemetery, La Fayette Fountain at Tippecanoe County Courthouse and much more.
The town of Elmwood was quite charming. In town they have a Lorado Taft Museum that wasn’t open when we were there, but I have toured it before and it was quite nice. I think it just open by appointment and I’m not quite sure who to call, I think it is maintained by the historical society.
The library also has some wonderful sculptures that I missed as well.
Downtown on the square there was also a very cool pavilion near the Pioneer statue.
We stopped at the Elmwood Cafe for lunch and loved the home cooking. I had a burger and mom had soup and sandwich.
“Good cooking with too much food,” is how my mom described the meal.
The revamped soda fountain is a plus and the whole vibe is quite charming.
If in the Elmwood area get off the beaten path and pursue a bit of Lorado Taft history, we did and enjoyed our backwoods art experience!