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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing - Chicago, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member adgorn
N 41° 47.663 W 087° 36.412
16T E 449579 N 4627125
Quick Description: Lessing (1729-1781) was a German writer and playwright who had a strong influence on German literature during the Age of Enlightenment.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 6/28/2010 2:13:21 PM
Waymark Code: WM94RK
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member GwynEvie
Views: 1

Long Description:
From Bach & Gray Chicago's Public Sculpture:
"A realistic, full-sized bronze portrait figure of the German dramatist and critic Gotthold Lessing (1729—81) has been placed on a granite base in a sunken rectangle within the rose garden at the northeast corner of Washington Park. The statue is turned toward the west so that it can receive most of a day’s sunlight, and the quiet setting is protected from the street by shrubbery. The sculptor, Albin Polasek, had been disappointed when his earlier work, the Theodore Thomas Memorial, was placed very near a busy street when he would have preferred a secluded spot where the public would have to seek out the sculpture. He obtained the approval of the South Park Commissioners to place the Lessing statue in a spot where it might be enjoyed with a measure of tranquility.

The sculpture was funded by the bequest of German-born Chicagoan Henry L. Frank (1839—1926), who along with his brother had used a sizeable inheritance from his uncle, Michael Reese, to establish the hospital that bears the uncle’s name. Frank’s friends and relatives commissioned Polasek to create a portrait of Lessing, whose dramas and critical works had led to the regeneration of German theater, because he was noted for his enlightened and liberal views and especially for encouraging religious tolerance in his 1779 drama, Nathan the Wise. In the play, which is set in Jerusalem during the Crusades, a Jewish sage, Nathan, must answer his Muslim overlord’s question, “Which is the true religion?” In reply Nathan relates the story of a ruler whose symbol of authority was a distinctive ring. The ruler had copies made of the ring and gave a ring to each of his three sons. On the ruler’s death none of the sons knew which had the true ring and was, therefore, the rightful ruler. Because there was no way to solve the problem, each was advised to act as if he had the true ring. The play ends by showing the folly of religious intolerance when a number of the characters prove to be long-lost relatives of others whose religions they have disparaged. The character of Nathan was based on and intended as a tribute to Lessing’s friend, the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of composer Felix Mendelssohn."

From the Smithsonian inventory:
"Sculpture: approx. 10 ft. x 3 ft. 6 in. x 3 ft. 6 in.; Base: approx. 5 ft. x 8 ft. 8 in. x 9 ft. 9 in.

Inscription: (Sculpture, bottom right side:) ALBIN POLASEK (Sculpture, bottom left rear:) Roman Bronze Works N.Y. (On base front:) GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM/LESSING signed Founder's mark appears.

Lessing wears a long cape around his shoulders and is standing with his proper left leg resting up on a step. He is holding a book in his proper left hand and rests it on his left knee. There is a pen in his proper right hand."

I came upon the statue while exploring the nearby Spirit of Du Sable abstract sculptures. The text above mentions that the statue was in a rose garden - that is not the case today so I think it must have been moved somewhat. The statue is in a quiet setting yet is very dramatic.
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