World's Fair Scenes


Chicago has a long and celebrated tradition of hosting grand noteworthy international expositions known as the “World’s Fair”. Two of the four stars embroidered on the flag of the City of Chicago commemorate each of the city’s World’s Fairs, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the Century of Progress of 1933. Each of these magnificent popular exhibitions are renowned for their display of technological advancements and modern innovation. Each celebrate Chicago’s special role as a state-of-the-art center for science, technology, culture, design and architecture.

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. The fair was held in Chicago’s expansive Jackson Park, and took place a mere 22 years after much of the city burned to the ground in the great fire of 1871. Architect Daniel Burnham chiefly designed the famous plan of the “White City”, creating an elaborate Beaux-Arts metropolis of gleaming neoclassical buildings, monuments and fountains punctuated by open, sweeping vistas. This spectacular architectural venue highlighted the advancements and wonders of the late 19th Century. Patrons arrived from across the globe to view such inventions as the first Ferris Wheel, the fully electronic kitchen, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum, Quaker Oats and boxes of Cracker Jacks, among numerous others. Famous artists from around the world painted and exhibited in the impressive sights at the celebrated grand “White City”.

In 1933, to celebrate the City’s 100th year, Chicago hosted it’s second World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress”. The Century of Progress was held along Chicago’s scenic lake front and took place at the height of the Great Depression. Despite the difficult economic times, the fair was a huge success for the city and continued on for a second year. Over 48 million visitors travelled to Chicago by the fair’s closing in 1934. The buildings and structures of Century of Progress celebrated a modern, Art Deco design and were decorated in a vibrant color palette specifically created for the fair by the noted designer Joseph Urban. In 1934, for the fair’s second year, the buildings at the Century of Progress were transformed and repainted a gleaming white. Among the technological highlights at the fair was the debut of the first streamlined train. Artists from around the world traveled to Chicago to paint this glowing fair. The Century of Progress offered a center of hope, modernity and employment during the formidable times of the early 1930s.

Of particular note in the Gallery’s collection is a selection of paintings from the 1933 and 1934 exhibition “Scenes from a Century of Progress”. This exhibition, which highlighted the dramatic and futuristic use of light and lighting at the 1933 Century of Progress, was organized by the Westinghouse Corporation, a chief sponsor and participant at the Chicago World’s Fair. It was Westinghouse technology that provided the spectaular illumination and light shows seen throughout the grounds of the fair. In the early 1930s, color film was still in its infancy and Westinghouse representatives judged that photography of the time could not adequately capture the subtle range of colors, hues and values of the fair’s special lighting. Westinghouse commissioned many of Chicago’s most notable and established artists to directly paint scenes of the Century of Progress, depicting views of the fair seen at various times of day. Artists Rudolph Ingerle and Edward Grigware chaired a committee organized by Groh Associates, a marketing firm employed by Westinghouse, to commission this collection of paintings. Other notable artists participating in the project included Tunis Ponsen, Josph Birren, Miklos Gaspar, Carl Preussl, and Otto Hake. Today the paintings included in this exhibition preserve the fair’s beauty and legacy for future generations to enjoy and experience.

Paintings intended for the “Scenes from a Century of Progress” exhibition are colorful, vibrant depictions of the World’s Fair. The artwork can be identified by a Groh Associates stencil located on the reverse of the painting noting that the artwork is commissioned by Groh Associates and the project was chaired by artists Edward Grigware and Rudolph Ingerle.

During the Century of Progress, these World’s Fair paintings were exhibited on the second floor of the Electrical Building (which was the Westinghouse headquarters at the fair). Later, the paintings were moved to the Chicago Lighting Institute Art Gallery, located in the Samuel Insull Building (now the Civic Opera Building) at 20 N. Wacker Dr. The exhibition was called “Scenes of a Century of Progress”. The paintings were further exhibited at the Groh Associates exhibition, “Painting by Light,” held at Marshall Field & Company's famed State Street department store. The paintings may also have been included as illustrations in Westinghouse annual calendars dating from the years following the Century of Progress.

Richard Norton Gallery is particularly interested in paintings and drawings of the Chicago Worlds Colombian Exhibition of 1891 and the Century of Progress World's Fair of 1933. Artwork from these special events celebrate a unique time in Chicago’s history. The gallery is also interested in artwork depicting other international World’s Fair exhibitions, including the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, MO, the 1915 San Francisco Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, CA and the 1939 New York World’s Fair in New York, NY, among others

  • 2135 lubbers 2135

    Adriaan Lubbers
    Dutch, 1892 - 1954
    Chicago (The Century of Progress Exposition), ca. 1934
    Watercolor and graphite on paper
    13 x 8 inches

    Signed Adriaan Lubbers lower right; signed and titled on reverse.

    #2135
  • Ponsen 7331

    Tunis Ponsen
    American, 1891 - 1968
    Century of Progress (Chicago World’s Fair), 1933
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 24 inches

    Signed Tunis Ponsen lower right.

    #7331
  • Ponsen 2630

    Tunis Ponsen
    American, 1891 - 1968
    The Century of Progress, Chicago (View of the Havoline Thermometer Tower), ca. 1933
    Watercolor on paper
    8 1/2 x 10 inches

    Signed Tunis Ponsen lower center.

    #2630
  • Chapin 8159

    Francis Chapin
    American, 1899 - 1965
    The Century of Progress, Chicago, 1933
    Lithograph on paper
    8 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches

    Signed (in plate), Francis Chapin, Chicago lower right.

    #8159
  • Tyler 7229

    Carolyn Dow Tyler
    American, 1867 - 1951
    Sky Ride from the Hyde Park Hotel (The 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair, The Century of Progress), 1933
    Watercolor on pencil
    7 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches

    Signed and dated Carolyn D. Tyler, 1933 lower left; titled on reverse.

    #7229
  • Van court 7303

    Franklin B. Van Court (Franklin V. Brown)
    American, 1903 - 1987
    The Century of Progress, Chicago World’s Fair (View of the Travel and Transportation Buildings), 1933
    Oil on artist board
    17 1/2 x 21 inches

    Signed and dated F. Van Court '33 lower left.

    #7303

Chicago has a long and celebrated tradition of hosting grand noteworthy international expositions known as the “World’s Fair”. Two of the four stars embroidered on the flag of the City of Chicago commemorate each of the city’s World’s Fairs, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the Century of Progress of 1933. Each of these magnificent popular exhibitions are renowned for their display of technological advancements and modern innovation. Each celebrate Chicago’s special role as a state-of-the-art center for science, technology, culture, design and architecture.

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 celebrated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. The fair was held in Chicago’s expansive Jackson Park, and took place a mere 22 years after much of the city burned to the ground in the great fire of 1871. Architect Daniel Burnham chiefly designed the famous plan of the “White City”, creating an elaborate Beaux-Arts metropolis of gleaming neoclassical buildings, monuments and fountains punctuated by open, sweeping vistas. This spectacular architectural venue highlighted the advancements and wonders of the late 19th Century. Patrons arrived from across the globe to view such inventions as the first Ferris Wheel, the fully electronic kitchen, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum, Quaker Oats and boxes of Cracker Jacks, among numerous others. Famous artists from around the world painted and exhibited in the impressive sights at the celebrated grand “White City”.

In 1933, to celebrate the City’s 100th year, Chicago hosted it’s second World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress”. The Century of Progress was held along Chicago’s scenic lake front and took place at the height of the Great Depression. Despite the difficult economic times, the fair was a huge success for the city and continued on for a second year. Over 48 million visitors travelled to Chicago by the fair’s closing in 1934. The buildings and structures of Century of Progress celebrated a modern, Art Deco design and were decorated in a vibrant color palette specifically created for the fair by the noted designer Joseph Urban. In 1934, for the fair’s second year, the buildings at the Century of Progress were transformed and repainted a gleaming white. Among the technological highlights at the fair was the debut of the first streamlined train. Artists from around the world traveled to Chicago to paint this glowing fair. The Century of Progress offered a center of hope, modernity and employment during the formidable times of the early 1930s.

Of particular note in the Gallery’s collection is a selection of paintings from the 1933 and 1934 exhibition “Scenes from a Century of Progress”. This exhibition, which highlighted the dramatic and futuristic use of light and lighting at the 1933 Century of Progress, was organized by the Westinghouse Corporation, a chief sponsor and participant at the Chicago World’s Fair. It was Westinghouse technology that provided the spectaular illumination and light shows seen throughout the grounds of the fair. In the early 1930s, color film was still in its infancy and Westinghouse representatives judged that photography of the time could not adequately capture the subtle range of colors, hues and values of the fair’s special lighting. Westinghouse commissioned many of Chicago’s most notable and established artists to directly paint scenes of the Century of Progress, depicting views of the fair seen at various times of day. Artists Rudolph Ingerle and Edward Grigware chaired a committee organized by Groh Associates, a marketing firm employed by Westinghouse, to commission this collection of paintings. Other notable artists participating in the project included Tunis Ponsen, Josph Birren, Miklos Gaspar, Carl Preussl, and Otto Hake. Today the paintings included in this exhibition preserve the fair’s beauty and legacy for future generations to enjoy and experience.

Paintings intended for the “Scenes from a Century of Progress” exhibition are colorful, vibrant depictions of the World’s Fair. The artwork can be identified by a Groh Associates stencil located on the reverse of the painting noting that the artwork is commissioned by Groh Associates and the project was chaired by artists Edward Grigware and Rudolph Ingerle.

During the Century of Progress, these World’s Fair paintings were exhibited on the second floor of the Electrical Building (which was the Westinghouse headquarters at the fair). Later, the paintings were moved to the Chicago Lighting Institute Art Gallery, located in the Samuel Insull Building (now the Civic Opera Building) at 20 N. Wacker Dr. The exhibition was called “Scenes of a Century of Progress”. The paintings were further exhibited at the Groh Associates exhibition, “Painting by Light,” held at Marshall Field & Company's famed State Street department store. The paintings may also have been included as illustrations in Westinghouse annual calendars dating from the years following the Century of Progress.

Richard Norton Gallery is particularly interested in paintings and drawings of the Chicago Worlds Colombian Exhibition of 1891 and the Century of Progress World's Fair of 1933. Artwork from these special events celebrate a unique time in Chicago’s history. The gallery is also interested in artwork depicting other international World’s Fair exhibitions, including the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, MO, the 1915 San Francisco Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, CA and the 1939 New York World’s Fair in New York, NY, among others

612 Merchandise Mart
Chicago, Illinois 60654

(312) 644-8855
info@richardnortongallery.com

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