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 Charles James Mulligan  (1866 - 1916)

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following biographical information has been provided by Sally Ann Mulligan Stallard, grandniece of the artist.

Charles James Mulligan was born in Crilly, Aghaloo, County Tyrone, Ireland on 28 Sept. 1866 to James Charles and Martha Jane (Shekelton) Mulligan.   He was baptized on 25 Nov. 1866 in Carnteel, Church of Ireland, County Tyrone.  At the time, James was a farmer living on an estate named "Riversdale".  (It is still standing today - 2006.).  Four children were born here, the first dying in infancy, the second Charles James, then Emily, and Mary Elizabeth who died when she was three years old.

Between 1870 and 1873, James decided to return to Fort Charles, the old homestead in Banbridge, County Down.  (It, also, is still standing - 2006.)  He grew flax for the linen industry which was expanding rapidly.   Here six more children were born.  Soon, it became difficult to support such a large family as a farmer; thus, it was decided to emigrate to America as Mrs. Mulligan had a brother living in New York City.  They came to America on the ship, The S.S. State of Nebraska, boarding in Larne, Ireland and landing in New York on 21 Oct 1881.  Charles James was fifteen years old;  the youngest child, my grandfather, was three months. 

James Charles stopped in New York for a time, but not finding any work that he was qualified to do, he and his son, Charles James, headed west.  They settled in Pullman, south of Chicago, where James got a job with the Pullman Company, building railroad passenger cars.  It was a new industry which had just started in 1880.  His  family joined him there where his youngest son and last child was born.  After living in Pullman for many years, he moved the family to Fernwood, a neighboring village, in the year 1888, where they lived for the rest of their lives.   James Charles changed jobs;  he worked as a night watchman for Sherwin Willliams.  He was later blinded by an explosion at the plant.

As a teenager, Charles went to work in a suburban Chicago marble factory and studied art in night school.  In his spare time, he modeled clay figures, which  attracted the attention of Lorado Taft, a well-known Chicago sculptor and artist.   Even the rough work of the untrained youth disclosed talent to Mr.Taft; thus, Charles began the study of sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago under Mr. Taft, becoming his first student.  This led to Charles going to Paris, where he studied at the l'Ecole des Beaux Arts under Alexandre Falguiere.  After returning to Chicago, Charles became naturalized in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, on 27 Oct 1888.  Soon after that, he married Margaret Ely who was from Bass Lake, Indiana.  They were married on 8 Jan 1889 in the Christ Church, Woodlawn Park, Chicago.  They had six children of which three died in infancy and three sons survived to adulthood - George, Howard, and Robert.

In 1893, the Chicago World's Fair (also called World's Columbian Exposition) did much to publicize art in the Midwest.  Architects, landscapers, and decorative artists gathered in Chicago to work for months on this project.  Lorado Taft was asked to oversee all the sculpture for the fair.  Aspiring young sculptors joined his studio group; Charles being one of them.  Taft made him foreman of the shop.  Taft and his studio made decorative groups for the Horticultural Building. 

After the fair closed, a group of artists stayed on in Chicago but found  the summer weather to be unpleasant.  By 1895, they were looking for a summer retreat for themselves and their families.  Charles James offered a site on his in-laws' farm land in Northern Indiana.  It was located along side Bass Lake which was bordered by willows.  The artists readily accepted and set up tents.  They spent a couple of summers there till malaria struck in 1897.  A search for a new site began when Mr. Wallace Heckman, a lawyer and, later, business manager of University of Chicago,  leased them fifteen acres of wooded property overlooking the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois for $0.50 a year.  An association was set up called "The Eagle's Nest".  It lasted from 1898 to 1942.  Taft taught the arts there; Charles was a student of sculpture.  The artists and their families had a marvelous time living here.  They put on plays for themselves and had a rollicking good time.  It was a haven for creative people and people interested in the arts - artists, writers, teachers, all came there. 

The Chicago Autumn Festival was held in 1899 in which Taft and Charles participated.  Charles' contribution was a pair of allegorical groups representing "Education" and "Industry", placed on either side of a triumphal arch designed by James Gamble Rogers, architect, called "State Street Court of Honor".

Charles was one of the founders of the Palette and Chisel Club and member of the following organizations: Chicago Society of Artists, Society of Western Artists, Beaux Arts Club, Cliff  Dwellers and Irish Fellowship Club.  He was awarded the Chicago Society of Artists'  Silver Medal of Honor on 18 Feb 1908.  This is the highest recognition of merit that an artist throughout the entire West can hope to attain, and it is eagerly sought. 

For nearly thirty years, first as a student, then as an instructor, Charles was connected with the evening classes of the Art Institute.  After the resignation of Lorado Taft from the school,  he assumed the position of head of the department of sculpture.  Aside from his duties as teacher, he found time to execute numerous creative works which have been erected as public memorials in various parts of the country as well as in Chicago.  During the last ten years, he and Taft were prominently identified with the movement for a "Chicago Beautiful".   He steadily grew into prominence as a sculptor and architect, and twice served as a delegate abroad for the American Institute of Architects and Sculptors.  Numerous works of Charles have been placed in the parks of Chicago and other cities of Illinois and Indiana.

Among the prize winning figures designed by Charles were "The Three Sisters", at the entrance of the Supreme Court building at Springfield;  "The Rail Splitter", "The Fourth of July" fountain, and the statue of "Col. Finnerty", all of which were purchased by the West Park Board, Chicago.  The most noted work of Charles was the group figure called the "Spirit of the Mines", which was to be installed in Denver, Colorado.  He had made a working model that had been displayed in Garfield Park, Chicago.  His son, George, was expected to finish the project.

Exerpt from an obiturary:
Following is a partial list of his principal works:
1901:  "Miner and His Child" or "Home", Humboldt Park at Division St. (1200N) and  California (2800W), Chicago - Dedicated Sep 1911 - Exhibited in 1901 at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. (Clay model exists)  ($3500)   
1901:  "The Digger", Drainage Canal.  Exhibited at the Pan American Exposition in  Buffalo, New York, 1901
1902:  "Fourth of July Fountain", Independence Square at Douglas (1400S) and  Independence (3800W), Chicago - 4 July 1902. Commissioned in 1900 for $18,000)
1903:  "Lincoln", Pana, Illinois - 1903 (Rosemond Grove Cemetery) (Original) (This statue is signed and dated.)
1905:  "William McKinley Monument", McKinley Park, south of Western Blvd. (2400W), Archer Ave. and 37th St., Chicago - 1905
1905:  "General Thomas Meagher", Helena, Montana -1905 ($20,000)
1905:  "Lincoln, The Orator" (The Gettysburg Lincoln) -1905 (Oakwoods Cemetery at 1035 E. 67th St. Lincoln Green) (Copy of  Pana, Illinois Lincoln)
1906:  "The Indian Fountain", Lincoln, Illinois - Oct 1906 ($750 and $10,000 to restore in 2001) This was featured at the Illinois State Fair before being placed  at Logan County Court House Square.
1906:  "The Illinois Memorial", Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi - 26 Oct  1906  (Depicting Lincoln, President;Yates, Governor; and Grant, warrior)($194,423.92)
1909: "Justice and Power" and "Law and Knowledge", two groups which stand at  the entrance to the Supreme Court Building at Springfield, Illinois - 1909 (Plaster models made 1908 and are located in the Oregon, Illinois Public Library)
1909  "George Rogers Clark Monument", Riverview Park, Chestnut and N. 2nd., Quincy, Illinois.  Dedicated 21 May 1909.  Financed by the State of Illinois.
1911: "Lincoln, The Rail Splitter", Garfield Park, Chicago - July 1911 (NW corner of Washington and Central Park)  ($2500)
1912: "Centennial Monument", Edwardsville, Illinois -16 Sep 1912  ($5000)
1913: "Andersonville Monument", Andersonville, Georgia -20 Dec 1913  ($15,000)
1913  "Soldiers' Monument", (Also called "The Peace Monument), Decatur, Indiana. Dedicated 30 October 1913.(Cost was $10,000.) Charles Mulligan designed the monument while Charles M. Dodd carved it.  Located on the lawn of the Adams County Court House.
1916: "Spirit of the Mines", to be located in Denver (Unfinished 1916)
          "John D. Finnerty Monument", Garfield Park, Chicago
          "Henry Clay", 833 W. Main Street, Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky
           Bust of Governor Tanner, John Riley Tanner - b.1844 d.1901.1441 Monument Ave., Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois. (This bust is located in a mausoleum.  One can only look through bars so very hard to see.)
           "Texas Ranger", Dallas, Texas
           "The Gunner, The Farmer, The Miner and The Toiler", exhibited at St.Louis Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, 1904." (Also called St. Louis World's Fair or The Louisiana Purchase Exposition)

Among his unfinished works are the statue of Stephen A. Douglas, which is to be located in Springfield;  two figures for the City Club; Robert Emmett Memorial and the statue of Ireland for Emmett Memorial Hall;  Brother Adjutor, founder of the DeLaSalle Institute; "The Immigrant Viewing the Statue of Liberty," The Vicksburg Memorial, "Sheridan, the Equestrian", for Sheridan Road, Chicago;  Anthony Wayne monument for Fort Wayne, and several others."   The Anthony Wayne monument was sculpted by George E. Ganiere of Chicago, Illinois which was dedicated 4 July 1918.  It is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Hayden Park, Maumee Avenue and Harmar Street.

Exerpts from various obituaries:
"Mr. Mulligan was comparatively a poor man, having sacrified all his energies and resources to his art, he was just reaching that position in which the returns of his efforts and the wide recognition of his genius would return to him the substantial reward to make his family and his old age a comfort and a beatitude.  While he lay dying in the Chicago hospital, the Anthony Wayne monument commission of Ft. Wayne, Ind., was holding a meeting in which the commission awarded to Mr. Mulligan the contract to execute his design submitted more than two years ago, for the statue of General Mad Anthony Wayne, which is to be the principal art feature of a beautiful park in the Indiana city.  This is a $15,000 order and would have meant a great deal in a material way ------".    Excerpt from Ryerson Library pamphlet file.

"George Mulligan, son and assistant to his father, plans to complete the work of his father.  He is one of the most talented of the younger Chicago sculptors and it is believed by all who are familiar with his work, that he is fully qualified not only to complete the work of his father, but to attain to a career of distinction in monumental sculpture."

"Charles J. Mulligan, one of the foremost American sculptors, head of the department of sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute, and creator of some of the greatest public memorials and ideal groups in the West, died March 25 at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, from the effects of an operation.  He had been ill a month, suffering from gastric trouble, the exact nature of which physicians were unable to determine.  Less than a week ago, he was taken from his home at 1521 East Sixty-first street to the hospital.  His three sons and his wife were at his bedside when death came.  He died of carcinoma of the pancreas."

  "A memorial meeting in honor of Mr. Mulligan was held at the Art Institute and was attended by a large number of people distinguished in art and letters and in public life.  Mr. Lorado Taft, the sculptor under whom Mr. Mulligan began his work, paid a  tribute to Charlie: Friendship:  ' Mine dates back from nearer thirty years ago.  I have a memory of a little vocational school attempted by two of us in Pullman soon after I came to Chicago - evening classes in drawing and modeling.  'Soon after this he came to my studio for work and study.  The strong boy of twenty was already a skillful stone cutter and he came to help me in the carving of a bust.  We often recalled his breezy arrival with his tool chest and his little "family grindstone".  At the same time Charlie found (discovered) the Art Institute evening school and began there, a habit which continued to the end.

'Never shall I forget the great days of the exposition's building.  Particularly vivid is the memory of being put in charge of one of the studios with its motley army of sculptors and modelers gathered from all four corners of the earth.   My first official act was to make Charlie Mulligan foreman of the shop.  Instantly all was peace and good fellowship.

He led a party of artist friends to Bass Lake, Indiana, and the little group afterward developed into our Eagle's Nest colony of Oregon, Illinois.  Good bye, Charlie'"
Charles was buried on 28 March, 1916 in Mt. Greenwood Cemetery, Chicago.

1.  Mulligan Family Bible.
2.  Birth, General Registrar's Office, Oxford House, Belfast, District of Ballymagran,  Co Tyrone, 1864-85.
3.  Baptism, Parish Registers
4.  S.S. State of  Nebraska Ship's Manifest
5.  Naturalization Document
6.  Marriage Certificate
7.  Illinois Marriage Index on internet
8.  United States Federal Censuses:
1900 Census, Federal Archives, San Bruno, California, Roll 258, ED 339, Sheet 8. Source Media Type: Book.
1910 Census, Federal Archives, San Bruno, California, Roll 281, ED 1471, Sheet 15B
1920 Census, Same
9.  Mt. Greenwood Cemetery Records, Thomas Mulligan information.
10. 1905 Chicago City Directory, Film 582, Sutro Library, San Francisco, California
11.  Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois archives:  "Inventory of the Lorado Taft  field campus records" (Eagle's Nest photos and  papers).
12.  Oregon, Illinois Public Library - working models of Springfield, Illinois Supreme  Court statues: Law and Knowledge" and  "Justice and Power", video, books.
13.  Garvey, Timothy J., "Public Sculpture: Lorado Taft and The Beautification of   Chicago".  pages 65,106,192,193. (Located in the Oregon Public Library.
14.  Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois - archives.  Many obituaries are kept here.
15.  Chicago Historical Society
16.  Parks and Recreation Department, Chicago, Illinois
17.  Several obituaries pieced together from Art Institute archives
18.  Ira J. Bach and Mary Lackritz Gray,  "A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture",  University of Chicago Press, Published 1983.
19.  Metro, Chicago, 12 Feb 1999
20.  Illinois Biographies and Dictionary of Painters and Sculptors in Illinois for 1808 to  1945. pg. 519
21.  The Monumental News"  May 1916, page 306
22.  Encyclopedia Americana, "Taft, Lorado", Grolier, Incorporated, 2003, pg. 221.
23.  Family Genealogy compiled by Rory Paddock and Richard Mulligan who are 1st  cousins twice removed to Charles James, and Elaine Hohmann Wilson,  grandniece. 
24.  Works List compiled by Sharon Brown Mulligan, wife of John Douglas Mulligan,  grandnephew.


A man who was blind through duty call,
And a woman whose hair was gray,
Sat side by side in a darkened hall,
There their son in his coffin lay.

And the tears stole down their furrowed cheeks
None asked them why they cried,
For their grief was the kind that never speaks
When cherished hopes have died.

They had hoped that his star of artistic fame
Which was shining overhead,
Would set with a halo 'round his name
Long after they were dead.

But the hand that stops the tidal wave,
And eclipses the sun at noon,
Had broken the vase that held the flower -
They dare not say too soon.

For it seemed but yesterday to her-
Though fifty years ago-
She prayed that the babe her bosom pressed
Would to a great man grow.

And now, though Death has felled the tree,
The victory has been won.
And joining hand in united prayer,
Said, "Lord, Thy will be done."

And Ireland adds another link
To honor's golden chain.
Her sons from honest toil don't shrink,
Nor their genius live in vain.

By James C. Mulligan, Charles James Mulligan's father

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