Chicago’s Christmas Lions

The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago were made for the opening at its current location in 1893. They were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field who was the wife of the younger brother of department store entrepreneur Marshall Field.  She commissioned the animal sculptor Edward Kemeys to create the iconic statues. They have unofficial “names,” given to them by Kemeys, that are more like designations. The lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion “stands in an attitude of defiance,” while the north lion is “on the prowl.”

This is a photo taken today of the ‘north’ lion donning the traditional evergreen wreath standing firm atop a wrapped gift box, a nod to the museum’s ‘Open Something Greater This Holiday’ theme.  The 21st Annual Wreathing of the Lions took place on November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving.


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