NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Genius of Wisconsin and The West

There are two statues in the Capitol that weren't part of the original design. "The West" statue at the first floor southwest entrance was done by Vinnie Ream Hoxie in 1866-1868. Vinnie was born in Madison and was the first woman to get a commission from the United States Congress for a statue of Lincoln which is in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.  She was only 18 years old, and is the only sculptor for whom Abraham Lincoln posed in real life.

The statue displayed at Wisconsin's Capitol was carved in Rome and exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Fair & Exposition in Chicago. Her gowns were blown by the prairie winds and she holds a surveyor's compass and a sheaf of wheat.  I opted to shoot her in a way that highlighted all the architectural detail of the entryway so you'll have to trust me on the billowing gown thing.  She was meant to be a symbol of the abundancy to found in westward expansion.

The "Genius of Wisconsin" statue, which was originally sculpted by Helen Mears for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 is pictured below.  It was later recreated in marble by the Piccirilli Brothers and funded by women of Wisconsin. It now stands at the first floor southeast entrance of the Wisconsin Capitol.  I thought the sculptor's name sounded familiar and when I got home I looked it up and sure enough, I had seen her work in OshKosh when I visited the Paine Art Center!  No photographs were allowed on that trip, but the Capitol encourages photography so I can now share this replica of her wonderful work with you.

I found a great link about women's art from the 1893 World's Columbian Fair & Exhibition in Chicago.  Check it out if you like.   My first exposure to artifacts from the World's Fair were during a walking architecture tour in Chicago.  Can you imagine being there and seeing these sculptures along with everything else there on display?  The exposition covered more than 600 acres (2.4 km2), featuring nearly 200 new (but purposely temporary) buildings of predominantly neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures from 46 countries. More than 27 million people attended the exposition during its six-month run.  Only two of the buildings are still in Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Hey, why am I talking about Chicago?  I will take a moment to answer the question of whether or not I slid down the banister like Jeanna did.  I did not, but it's been on my mind and I'll be keeping an eye out for a banister to give it a try myself.  More about Madison on Monday!


  1. I wondered if you did, your still young so go for it. Some nice statues you took photos of

  2. I especially love the charm of the last photo Pam