After publishing the Saint Louis Art Museum Quilt earlier today, I was reminded of a series of photographs that I had taken when I had visited the museum last. It was New Years eve 2003 and Forest Park was open to highlight the start of the bicentennial anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase and the centennial anniversary of 1904 World’s Fair. While I didn’t know it at the time, the statue that I was taking photographs of was the Apotheosis of St. Louis.
According to the City of Saint Louis website:
“Apotheosis of St. Louis,” the statue of Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France, was the original symbol of the City of St. Louis.
The original plaster model of this statue was cast in 1903 by Charles H.Niehaus and stood at the main entrance to the 1904 World’s Fair, where the History Museum now is located.
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company decided to have the sculpture cast in bronze and presented to the City of St. Louis as part of the restoration of Forest Park after the fair. They approached Niehaus, who offered to cast it in bronze for $90,000, a price so high that the project appeared to be over. A local firm, W. R. Hodges, proposed to complete the project for $37,500.
The commission accepted Hodge’s offer and the statue was replicated but Niehaus protested and sued for ownership rights. Seven months after the dedication of the gift, Niehaus was awarded $3,000 in payment and the stipulation that the pedestal be inscribed “designed by C. H. Niehaus.”
The statue was unveiled Oct. 4, 1906. It is inscribed on the north base, “Presented to the City of St. Louis by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in commemoration of the Universal Exposition of 1904 held on this site.”