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Vultures get a bad rap.



Am I wrong to want this painting for the Community Collection?

Among the Community Collection’s holdings is a painting of three lions in the Lincoln Park Zoo. Painted in 1899 by Leon Stanhope, it didn’t look like much on eBay, nor after it arrived. But a light cleaning by Steve Johnson and a coat of varnish brought subtle textures to light. This painting above of 1915 showing two vultures in the Copenhagen zoo is already more impressive. But how might its presence be explained in Agincourt?

By the way, the artist of “Three Lions” came as quite a surprise. Leon Stanhope was a Chicago architect, designer of one of the city’s sequentially-numbered Christian Science churches—number eight in this case, on South Michigan Avenue and still standing, if google.maps is to be believed. Prior to the 1910 church commission, however, Stanhope had been chief of the city’s office of building inspection. His career was cut short by the famous Iroquois Theatre disaster of 1903, the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history. At least 605 people, many of them children attending a matinee, lost their lives. All Stanhope lost was his job, Chicago being the place that it was and probably still is.

Do you imagine a story as interesting as that is connected with “Two Vultures”? If there is none, I can make it up.

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