The Ultimate Chicago Souvenir: The Head of Montgomery Ward  

The Ultimate Chicago Souvenir: The Head of Montgomery Ward

Montgomery-Ward Diana-statue Montgomery-Ward-Diana-statue Montgomery-Ward-Diana-statue

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The allegorical figure who, quite literally, stood head and shoulders above the rest of Chicago for 20 years is going on the auction block.

The statue of the goddess Diana was a weathervane in the form of a naked woman holding a torch in one hand and a caduceus in the other.  She was made by sculptor John Massey Rhind in 1898 to top the tower that used to rise above 6 North Michigan Avenue.  At the time, the building was the Montgomery Ward Headquarters.

In 1947 she was removed from the building and chopped into pieces, which were snatched up by Chicagoana collectors.  Her breasts went one way, her arms another.  After 67 years in private hands, Diana’s head is coming on the market.  It will be auctioned off November 4th at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers (1338 West Lake Street).

More information, check the press release after the photos. For some reason it refers to her as “Amazonian,” even though she was Greek (see Wikipedia link above).

Chicago, Illinois – October 3, 2014 – This Amazonian beauty once towered over the Chicago skyline at 18 feet tall, making the Montgomery Ward headquarters the tallest building in the Windy City for over 20 years. In 1947, the Progress Lighting the Way For Commerce weathervane was dismantled and cut into 30 pieces. The remnants were claimed by astute souvenir- seeking Chicagoans. A Chicago Tribune article from July 20, 1947 reports that a prominent Chicagoan requested her bust! At that time, the David V. Nelson family acquired the head of “Progress” which will be offered at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on November 4 in the 20th Century Decorative Arts auction.

In 1898 Richard E. Schmidt was hired to add a tower to the existing Montgomery Ward building at 6 North Michigan Avenue. “Progress” was designed by Scottish-American sculptor John Massey Rhind and topped Schmidt’s pyramid form tower.

In her original form, “Progress” was depicted as a nude, bearing a flaming torch in her right hand and a caduceus in her left balancing atop a globe. The metallic erosion at the top of her face reveals the wear of nearly half a century outside amongst the Chicago elements. John Massey Rhind was said to be influenced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens Diana which topped the Agriculture Building at the Chicago World’s Fair.

For more information on the weathervane or the 20th Century Decorative Arts auction, please call Rebecca Williams at 312-280-1212. Preview for the sale will begin October 31 and continue until November 3.


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