‘Dean of American Sculpture’ talk set for Urbana next week

An upcoming event about the “Dean of American Sculpture” will be held next week in Urbana.

Sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward will be the subject of a presentation by sculptor Mike Major at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Champaign County Arts Council and Major’s studio, 119 N. Main St.

J.Q.A. Ward, known as “Quincy” to his family and friends, was born on June 29, 1830, in Urbana.

As a youth, Ward loved sculpting small animals, figures on horseback, sawmills and population villages. At age 11, he ran Miles Chatfield’s pottery shop where he learned to turn a pot and decorate it with bas-reliefs.

“This modest start, born of a fascination with his first revelation of the possibilities of Art from reading a set of the Encyclopedia Britanica that was in his father’s library, eventually led to an amazing art career and his well earned reputation as the ‘Dean of American Sculpture’,” Major said.

Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., wrote to Mrs. Ward regarding Ward’s Indian Hunter sculpture in Central Park in Manhattan, NY.

“Urbana is indeed fortunate to have for its enjoyment forever one of Mr. Ward’s best works and the one that instantly made his reputation. I regard the Indian Hunter as among the very finest examples of modern sculpture. It is the more remarkable having been made at a time when the classic influence was so strong as almost to stifle originality and freshness in sculpture. It is a beautiful statue,” French wrote.

“My acquaintance with Mr. Ward dates back to the Spring of 1870, when a youth of 20 I was so fortunate to work for a short time under his guidance in his studio in Forty-ninth Street as a special pupil. What he taught me at that time, and what he was, have influenced my whole life to a marked degree, and his close friendship until his death, I regard as one of my most valuable privileges, not only for its effect upon my work, but for the example that he set by his standing qualities of character.”

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