The Reader

Sylvia Shaw Judson (American, 1897-1978)
The Reader, 1946/1961
(Variant title: Boy Reading, source: “For Gardens and Other Places; The Sculpture of Sylvia Shaw Judson,” by Sylvia Shaw Judson)
Bronze
24 ½ x 17 ½ x 18 in.
Gift of the Marjorie and Richard Ettlinger and Laurie and Alan Reinstien families in memory of Viola and Lawrence Stein and Ruth and Bernard Nath

Sylvia Shaw Judson grew up in Lake Forest and was the daughter of well-known architect Howard Van Doren Shaw and the poet Frances (Wells) Shaw. Judson studied at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago on and off between 1915 and 1918 and later in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Her works have been exhibited in museums, at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition (1933), and at the New York World’s Fair (1939). Shaw’s work can be found in the collection of the White House, in the offices of the President of the Philippines, and at the Massachusetts State House.

Sylvia Shaw Judson received much posthumous attention in the late 1990s when her Bird Girl sculpture (1938) appeared on the cover of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” by John Berendt. The sculpture also appeared in the opening scene of the movie with the same title.

The Reader is the first sculpture patrons approach when entering the Library. It is one of the most familiar and loved works of art in the Library, and a magnet to the younger set of library users.