The Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute has donated a plaster bust of Hoosier statesman Wendell Willkie to the City of Rushville where it is now on display in the City Hall.
“We are eternally grateful to the Swope Art Museum for their donation of this bust,” comments Mike Pavey, Mayor of the City of Rushville. “This bust will stand in the City Council chambers and look over the proceedings of our great City.”
The life-sized bust had been at the Swope since 1948, and was done by Edmondo Quattrocchi, a talented sculptor of the first half of the 20th Century. It was a gift of Mrs. Edith Willkie, the widow of Wendell. The bust was deaccessioned in 2010 by the Swope and has been in storage awaiting a proper relocation. The relocation of this bust was coordinated by David Willkie, the grandson of Wendell Willkie.
“It is fitting that his bust, one of the few known of Wendell Willkie, be on display in Rushville where the Willkies are buried,” said Fred J. Nation, executive director of the Swope Art Museum. “It will be a meaningful addition to the city’s remembrance of one of Indiana’s most famous sons.”
“The Bicentennial Committee would like to extend its thanks to the Swope Art Museum for the donation of the Willkie bust,” adds Brian Sheehan, Rush County Bicentennial Committee Chairman. “The timing could not have been more perfect. This bust of Willkie pays homage to the role that he played in making Rush County’s 200 year history, historic.”
ABOUT WILLKIE: Willkie, the Republican party’s presidential candidate in 1940, was born in Elwood, Indiana in 1892. He was a graduate of Indiana University where Willkie Quadrangle is named after him. After becoming a lawyer, he worked for Firestone Tire and Rubber in Akron, Ohio, later became a utility executive and in 1933 became president of Commonwealth and Southern Corp., a major utility. He was active in national politics and in 1939 switched from the Democratic to Republican party. As an internationalist, he was the Republican nominee opposing President Roosevelt’s bid for a third term. After his loss, he became a key advisor to Roosevelt advocating for US participation in the war against the Nazis. Wendell Willkie died in 1944 and his wife Edith, a native of Rushville, had him buried in her hometown. He and Edith are buried in Rushville’s East Hill Cemetery.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Quattrocchi, the sculptor of the Willkie bust, was born in Italy, moved to New York where he studied. He executed a number of portrait busts including one of Frederick MacMonnies and a full-length statue of Benjamin Franklin at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.