Lorado Taft was one of the premier sculptors of his day. He was a widely published scholar on the topic and his work was highly sought after. He was commissioned to produce many public works including the The Soldier’s Monument in Oregon, Illinois, The Solitude of the Soul Scupture at the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Fountain of Time in Chicago.
Taft was commissioned in 1909 by Henry Graves, of Chicago, to create a monument for his father, Dexter Graves. The Graves family had long been in America, their first ancestor, Thomas Graves, crossed the Atlantic and settled in Connecticut in 1645. Dexter Graves [1789-1844] himself was a pioneer and was one of the earliest settlers in Chicago who, according to the inscription on the back of the monument, “brought the first colony to Chicago, consisting of 13 families, arriving here July 15, 1831 from Ashtabula, Ohio, on the schooner Telegraph.”
The bronze figure that Taft created is named Eternal Silence, an obvious metaphor for death. The forboding cloaked figure stands against solid black granite–black being the traditonal color representing mourning and death. The figure has his eyes closed and gathers the shroud to his lips preventing him from speaking.
The bronze has an eerie feel to it, in part, because of the way the patina has formed on the statue. The shroud has a greenish blue unnatural color. Except for a highlight on the nose, most of the face has remained dark and recedes from the hood, making it appear more menacing and mysterious.