About this artwork
Kate Buckingham, Chicago philanthropist and patron of the arts, was best known for donating the iconic Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. In 1928, she endowed a fund to build a memorial to Alexander Hamilton, which was unbuilt at the time of her death in 1937. During the 1930s, however, Buckingham commissioned sculptor John Angel to design a bronze statue of Hamilton, and Eliel Saarinen, the Finish-born architect and then president of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, designed its monumental setting. Saarinen’s design called for a raised pavilion of four 80-foot, fluted granite columns crowned by a large bronze canopy. Although the trustees of the fund would later reject this design, Saarinen’s rendering for the project displays the restrained classicism of the memorial in an atmospheric setting that seems to recall the temple mounts of antiquity.
When the project was finally advanced in the early 1950s, styles had changed, and a new design was commissioned from Samuel Marx, a sensuous modern architect and designer. His solution did away with classicizing columns, and instead installed the statue on a large stone base in front of a towering pylon made of polished black granite. Borrowing the scale and austere grandeur of the mid-century urban plaza, this design, while striking, can be viewed as out of scale and sympathy with the traditional bronze sculpture it was created to support. Today the sculpture stands alone in a flower garden, stripped of any traces of its monumental framing.
Currently Off View
- Architecture and Design
- Marx, Flint & Schonne Architects
- Alexander Hamilton Memorial, Lincoln Park, Chicago, Perspective
- Lincoln Park
- Graphite on white tracing paper, Green and brown pencil added
- 89 x 60.9 cm (35 1/16 x 24 in.)
- Gift of Kate S. Buckingham Fund