"It does not prove a thing to be right because the majority say it is so."  FRIEDRICH SCHILLER

I have been fascinated by Richard Nickel's photographs of the Portrait Busts, taken just prior to demolition at the Schiller Building.  And even more fascinated by the Busts themselves.  How is it possible that these important fragments from what is arguably one of the most important buildings produced by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan have ended up scattered across the City instead of enshrined on the Grand Staircase at the Art Institute of Chicago?

 Who cares?  Anybody?



And even with a little research, even more questions surface.  Who sculpted them?  Who do they depict?  Reidy attributes the Busts to Richard Bock.  But Bock's autobiography, edited by his daughter Dorothi mentions only the Schiller's interior tympanums.  A later monograph by Chicago historians John Vinci and Timothy Samuelson credit the modeling to Frederick Almenraeder (Bock's mentor and later co-worker at North Western).  But the North Western Terra Cotta records that might have confirmed that, as well as who the Busts depict, were lost in a fire. 

Photographs show twelve busts at the second floor with as many as 24 near the tower cornice. (Some, of course, may have been duplicates.)  And yet, I've only discovered 7 extant (including the one I just learned of on Geneva Terrace).  Where are the rest?  Rumors abound.  And speculation. Lot's of speculation.
So here's mine.  (Why not?)  Almenraeder and Bock may well have worked on these portrait heads together -- all the heads are good, but not stylistically consistent. (I'll give the more Baroque "Engels" to Ecole trained, Bock.)  Bock and  Almenraeder were friends and both had simultaneous formalized assignments on the Schiller Building -- and the Portrait commission was too big for one person. As for the identity, I'll trust Bob Burton's research for four of them as follows:

Fritz Reuter

Yaakov Liebmann Meyerbeer

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Gotthold Ephram Lessing

And for the following two, I suggest these for your consideration:

Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Schiller

And for the location of the remaining work?  Richard Nickel knows.  Knows where every one of them are.  And is holding on to that secret until he knows that these fragments of history and art will be appreciated.  And safe.  Which may just be a very, very long time.



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