Fred Torrey

1884 -1967

Fred Torrey

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Sculptor Fred Martin Torrey, born in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 29, 1884, specialized in depictions of Abraham Lincoln. Educated in the Fairmont schools, Torrey left West Virginia in 1909 to enroll at the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied there with the renowned sculptor Lorado Taft (1880-1936). Torrey met his wife, Mabel Landrum Torrey, also a sculptor, at the Institute. They were married in September 7, 1917 at Sterling, Logan, Colorado, and had one child, Elizabeth. Fred Torrey’s 1933 statue, ‘‘Lincoln Walks at Midnight,’’ was displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair as a model. In 1974, a nine-and-one-half foot bronze casting of the statue was erected near the West Virginia state capitol. Torrey sculpted other historic figures as well, including Stephen Douglas, George Washington, and George Washington Carver. One of his last works was a 1965 bust of John F. Kennedy. Torrey died in Ames, Iowa, July 8, 1967.

Best known for sculptures of child figures and portraits, Mabel Landrum Torrey (1886 – 1974) was born in a sod house in Colorado. Her father became a judge in Sterling Colorado where she taught school before she left to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, majoring in the art of sculpture. She was a student of Charles Mulligan. When she married artist Fred Torrey and they opened a studio across from the University of Chicago. Her artwork was shown at the Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1916-26 (7 times); Annual Exhibition of Oil Paintings & Sculpture by American Artists, AIC, 1924, 27; Chicago Galleries Association; A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings & Sculpture, AIC, 1933, 1934; Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago; and the Woman’s World Fair, Chicago, 1925, 28. Awards and recognition included: Prizem Chicago Galleries Association, 1930; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Wnyken, Blynken and Nod Fountain, Denver, CO; and University of Chicago Elementary School. She died in Ames, Iowa.

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

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