Chicago sculptor: Sylvia Shaw Judson [1897–1978]

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Sylvia Shaw Judson

Sylvia Shaw Judson was born in 1897 in Lake Forest, Illinois. She is the daughter of prominent Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. She attended the Westover School in Connecticut. In 1917, she married Clay Judson (1892–1960), a Chicago lawyer. She studied with Anna Hyatt Huntington and Albin Polasek at the Art Institute of Chicago and went to Paris in 1920 to continue her studies under Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Judson was influenced by Chinese sculpture and the work of French sculptor Aristide Maillol, whom she met in Paris.

Some of her work in Chicago are..
Spirit Of Electricity, 1931, adorning a substation in the Daley Plaza, Chicago.
Bird Girl, 1936, bronze, at Cliff Dwellers
Apple Tree Children, 1967, bronze and wood, Lake Forest Library Children’s Department, Lake Forest, Illinois
Birds on Eggs, 1959, cast aluminum, Chicago Botanic Garden
Merchild, 1920, bronze, Chicago Botanic Garden
Naughty Faun, 1921, Bedford stone, Chicago Botanic Garden
For more, “Sculptures of Sylvia Shaw Judson”, click on the link.. click here..




Spirit Of Electricity [1931] - by Sylvia Shaw Judson

Spirit Of Electricity [1931] – by Sylvia Shaw Judson



Merchild [1920] - by Slyvia  Shaw Judson

Merchild [1920] – by Slyvia Shaw Judson



Birdgirl [1936] - by Slyvia Shaw Judson

Birdgirl [1936] – by Slyvia Shaw Judson



Birdgirl on Bookcover and Filmposter
Bird Girl was made in 1936. It was sculpted at Ragdale, the summer home of her family. It achieved fame when it was featured on the cover of the 1994 novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt. Later, in 1997, it featured in poster the movie by the same name, directed by Clint Eastwood.

The story of Birdgirl  by Alice Ryerson Hayes [daughter of Sylvia Shaw Judson], on the Cliff Dwellers website.. click here..

Wikipedia has more on this..
Bird Girl is cast in bronze and stands 50 inches tall. She is the image of a young girl wearing a simple dress and a sad or contemplative expression, with her head tilted toward her left shoulder. She stands straight, her elbows propped against her waist as she holds up two bowls out from her sides. The bowls are often described by viewers as “bird feeders”. The sculpture was commissioned as a garden sculpture for a family in Massachusetts. A slight, eight-year old model named Lorraine Greenman (now Lorraine Ganz) posed for the piece.

Only four statues were made from the original plaster cast. The first went to the Massachusetts garden. The second was sent to Washington, D.C., and is now located in Reading, Pennsylvania. The third was purchased by a family in Lake Forest and has never relocated. The fourth and most famous statue was bought by a family in Savannah, Georgia, who named it Little Wendy and set it up at her family’s plot in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Judson donated the original plaster model to the Crow Island School in Winnetka, Illinois.

BOOKCOVER: The Bonaventure Cemetery statue sat virtually unnoticed until 1993, when Random House hired Savannah photographer Jack Leigh to shoot an image for the cover of John Berendt’s new book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. At the suggestion of Berendt, Leigh searched the Bonaventure Cemetery for a suitable subject. He found the sculpture next to a grave on the Trosdal family plot at the end of his second day of searching, and had to make the shot quickly as dusk approached. He reportedly spent ten hours in the darkroom adjusting the lighting, giving the photo a moonlit feel and accentuating the halo around the statue’s head.

The cover image was an immediate hit, and author Berendt called it “one of the strongest book covers I’ve ever seen.” Published in 1994, the book became a bestseller, and soon people began flocking to Bonaventure Cemetery to see the sculpture. Due to concern about the amount of traffic at the grave site, the Trosdal family had it removed from the cemetery and later lent to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah for public display.

FILMPOSTER: Warner Bros. produced a film adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1997, directed by Clint Eastwood. After purchasing the rights to use the sculpture’s likeness from Alice Hayes [daughter of Sylvia Shaw Judson], the studio created a fiberglass replica. The movie incorporated shots of the Bird Girl sculpture on its posters and in the film itself. After the film was completed the replica was sent to the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago, Illinois.

Photographer Leigh sued Warner Bros. in November 1997 for copyright infringement over their shots of the Bird Girl replica in the cemetery, which were similar to Leigh’s original cover photograph. The lower court ruled that the movie’s sequences with the statue were not infringement, but an appeals court found that the photographs used for promotional purposes, such as posters, bore significant similarities and remanded the matter back to the lower court. Warner Bros. and Leigh then settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.




Bookcover and Filmposter: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"

Bookcover and Filmposter: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”






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