First exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, Edmonia Lewis’s “Death of Cleopatra” was highly praised by critics at the time.  The two-ton statue featured the Egyptian queen at the moment of her death. Lewis was the first professional African American and Native American sculptor.  The statue was sculpted only a decade after the end of slavery, marked by the close of the Civil War, during the period when “Reconstruction” was failing. Her masterpiece would take an unlikely journey to Forest Park after being showcased at the Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition of 1878.  It is unclear how he acquired it, but the statue would sit prominently at “Blind John” Condon’s race track and golf course, located where Living Fresh and the Forest Park Mall are today. The statue was miraculously rescued from a scrap yard and restored in Forest Park, before finding a permanent home at the Smithsonian.

Photo link: