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Fountain of Time, or simply Time, is a 126 foot long sculpture by Lorado Taft, within Washington Park in Chicago, Illinois.
The sculpture was inspired by Henry Austin Dobson’s poem, “Paradox of Time”. “Time goes, you say? Ah no, Alas, time stays, we go”.
The sculpture includes Father Time, hooded and carrying a scythe. He watches over a parade of 100 figures showing humanity at various stages of life.
Although most of the figures are generic Taft included himself, with one of his assistants following him, along the west side of the sculpture. He is wearing a smock, his head is bowed and his hands are clasped behind his back. His daughters also served as models for some of the figures.
The work was created as a monument to the first 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain, resulting from the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 and funded by a 1905, $1 million ($26.3 million today), gift from Benjamin Ferguson. The gift formed a charitable trust to “memorialize events in American History”.
Lorado Taft initially conceived a sculpture carved from granite or Georgia marble, however, the trust only allotted enough funds for a concrete structure.
In 1999, Robert Jones, director of design and construction for the Art Institute of Chicago stated that Time was the first finished art piece to be made of any type of concrete.
The sculpture is made of steel reinforced cast concrete. It was cast in a 4,500-piece mold, using 230 tons of a material described as “concrete-like”, which incorporated pebbles from the Potomac River.
Lorado Zadoc Taft was born in Elmwood, Illinois, in 1860 and died in his home studio in Chicago in 1936.
After being homeschooled by his parents, Taft earned his bachelor’s degree (1879) and master’s degree (1880) from the Illinois Industrial University (later renamed the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
Taft attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts from 1880 to 1883, he returned to Chicago in 1883 and taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago until 1929.
Taft also taught at the University of Chicago from 1893 to 1900 and again in 1909 as a lecturer of art history. He also wrote a number of books on art history.
Taft’s body of work is impressive. Some notable sculptures around Chicago include Eternal Silence and The Crusader both at Graceland Cemetery, and Fountain of the Great Lakes at the Art Institute. He also sculpted the Columbus Fountain at Union Station in Washington DC.