Bronze Bust Commissioned by Carl Sandburg Donated to Carl Sandburg College

  Aaron Frey
  Tuesday, August 4, 2020 3:28 PM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

A bust of Carl Sandburg College’s namesake that was commissioned by the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and poet was recently donated to the College by the family of the sculptor.

According to Carl Rosenquist, his aunt Fingal Rosenquist first met Sandburg, a Galesburg native, around 1940 in Philadelphia at the American Swedish Historical Museum, where Sandburg was giving a lecture and Rosenquist was having a show. Sandburg approached Fingal Rosenquist about possibly creating a piece for him someday.

The two remained in touch, exchanging multiple letters in the following years. In the late 1950s, Sandburg commissioned Rosenquist to do a bust of him, and he came to her studio for about a week to sit for the sculpture. Carl Rosenquist said he, his younger brother and two of his aunt’s friends even helped pour the plaster mold for the piece.

“I think we worked 24 hours straight on that thing,” Carl Rosenquist joked.

When it was complete, the bronze statue was originally intended to go to a school in New Jersey, but the arrangement fell apart. Sandburg ended up giving the piece to Fingal Rosenquist, who passed away in 1980. It had remained with Rosenquist’s family for 40 years until they decided they wanted to donate it to a place with an appreciation for Sandburg’s history.

They approached the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and the Chamber of Commerce there in Hendersonville, N.C., in addition to reaching out to the Carl Sandburg College Foundation. Carl Rosenquist and his wife, Robin, traveled to Galesburg from their home in Vermont to deliver the sculpture in July. While a permanent location is still being decided, the College plans to have it featured prominently on campus.

“He was a man of the people,” Carl Rosenquist said. “He would appreciate being at this college.” 

Fingal Rosenquist with Sandburg bust

Fingal Rosenquist stands next to her sculpture of Carl Sandburg that was commissioned in the late 1950s by the Galesburg native and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. The Rosenquist family recently donated the bust to Carl Sandburg College. (Photo courtesy of Carl Rosenquist)

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Aaron Frey