Lake Forest Children's Library "Apple Tree Children" Sculpture


Title:  Apple Tree Children
Artist:  Sylvia Shaw Judson
Medium:  Bronze and wood
Installed at Lake Forest Library:  1967
Location in Library:  Children’s Department
Commissioned By:  Lake Forest Library Board of Trustees  


Sylvia Shaw Judson’s 6’ x 9’ bronze and wood sculpture entitled Apple Tree Children has delighted young library patrons since its installation in the Children’s Department in 1967. 


Distinguished sculptress and Lake Forest native Sylvia Shaw Judson (1897-1978) was the daughter of prominent Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and poet and writer Frances Wells Shaw.  She was raised at Ragdale in Lake Forest, the summer home built by Shaw for his family, which is now a well-known artist’s retreat.  The tree that figures so prominently in the sculpture was selected by Judson from the Ragdale property, and was specially treated to last as long as the bronze children settled comfortably upon its branches.   


Judson received her formal art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with additional study under Antoine Bourdelle in Paris.   Judson is known particularly for her endearing interpretation of children and animals in various media.  Franz Schulze, in his introduction to the artist’s book For Gardens and Other Places, states: “The comely simplicity of her concepts is matched by the directness and clarity of the forms with which she graces them.  She is utterly without guile.  Her treatment of favorite themes…is consistently tender, honest and serene…” 


Her commissions included works for many private gardens as well as libraries, parks, zoos, and other public places throughout the United States.  Her best known works include the sculpture of Mary Dyer, a Quaker martyr, on the grounds of the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston; The Little Gardner, acquired by Jacqueline Kennedy for the White House Rose Garden; and Bird Girl, of which one of two copies, located in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, gained notoriety in connection with the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (the sculpture is featured on the book’s cover).   Locally, additional pieces of Judson’s work can be found at Ravinia, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lake Bluff Library, Highland Park Library, Lake Forest Hospital, and Ragdale.