300 Jefferson Street
Oregon, Illinois 61061
815-732-2724
Fax: 815-732-6643

www.oregon.lib.il.us

 



   
  About The Eagle's Nest Art Colony  
  History  
 

Founded by sculptor Lorado Taft in 1898, the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony included painters, sculptors, poets, storytellers, and musicians.  The group took its name from an ancient cedar tree—a site for nesting eagles.1  Mostly consisting of artists from the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, the cohorts took creative refuge in Oregon, Illinois, at first setting up primitive tents, in the summers, on bluffs near Rock River.  Their communal fireplace then showcased a verse by Edward Lear: “And here all these interesting animals live together in the most copious and rural harmony; seldom if anywhere else in the world is such perfect and abject happiness to be found.”2

Later the artists leased fifteen acres of land from patron Wallace Heckman for $1 per year and the promise to give lectures and workshops to the local community. The land provided space for eventual cottages and artist studios.  The artists gathered annually in a costumed promenade to offer the rent in clever arrays—once in “eighty-nine pennies, two slugs, and some postage.”3 

A tireless supporter of fellow artists, Lorado Taft declared that people have the right to “All the beauty around us which most of us never perceive… All the inheritance of the past, which we Americans are particularly unconscious, and the talent which springs up perennially but which America’s rushing life is wont to extinguish before it takes root.”4  The Eagle’s Nest Art Colony’s intimate, idyllic setting promoted creative cross-pollination between artists working in various mediums and genres, including sculpture, painting, watercolor, music, poetry, playwriting and theatrical productions.  Eagle’s nest member Maurice Maeterlinck’s tragic drama Les Aveugles (The Blind) inspired Taft’s sculptural grouping The Blind, an allegorical treatment of the figure of the child as the visionary, “The symbol of hope that is worthy of perpetuation.”5  The working plaster cast for The Blind, on permanent display in the Oregon Public Library’s gallery, was instrumental in aiding in the restoration of the large-scale title piece, cast in bronze and installed at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus in the Krannert Art Museum.6

Allen and Irving Pond, two Chicago architects and former Eagle’s Nest members, designed the Oregon Public Library—a Carnegie library building—now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The library’s gallery showcases turn-of-the-century works in various mediums, including Lorado Taft and Nellie Verne Walker’s neo-classical masterpieces.  The second-story art gallery’s exceptional collection boasts a vast number of paintings and sculptures, most of which are on permanent public display.

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1 Croft, Betty [publisher].  Oregon Sculpture Trail, pamphlet.

2 Prokopoff, Stephen [Director]. The Blind, Lorado Taft, Krannert Art Museum. The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 1988, p.3.

3 Call, Keith. Oregon, Illinois. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publications, 2005, p.81.

4 Call 78

5 The Eagle’s Nest Art Colony Collection. Arts Alliance of Ogle County [Illinois], Oregon, 1982, p.47. 

6 Prokopoff 12-15. 

 

 

 
  The Eagle’s Nest Art Colony included painters, sculptors, poets, storytellers, and musicians. It is said that the group took its name from an ancient cedar tree—a site for nesting eagles in Oregon.
 

Croft, Betty. Oregon Sculpture Trail, pamphlet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

The Oregon Public Library's Eagle's Nest Colony Art Collection has been researched and appraised by:

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 814-8510
Email: info@mirappraisal.com