Apotheosis of St. Louis
|Artist||Design by Charles Henry Niehaus,
execution by W.R. Hodges
Apotheosis of St. Louis is a statue of King Louis IX of France, namesake of St. Louis, Missouri, located in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. Prior to the completion of the Gateway Arch, the statue was the principal symbol of the city. It has served in the iconography of St. Louis for more than a century.
The bronze statue that stands in Forest Park today was donated to Forest Park by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company following the 1904 World's Fair. It is a replica of a plaster statue that stood on the concourse of the Plaza of St. Louis, near the main entrance to the fair (where the Missouri History Museum now stands). The original artist, Charles Henry Niehaus, offered to create a bronze version of the plaster model for a $90,000 commission. However, the company took a lower $37,500 bid from a local artist, W. R. Hodges. Niehaus sued the company for infringement of his intellectual property rights, and he was awarded $3,000 and "designed by C. H. Niehaus" inscribed on the pedestal. It was unveiled on October 4, 1906.
On the north side of the pedestal is the inscription, "Presented to the City of St. Louis by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in commemoration of the Universal Exposition of 1904 held on this site." On either side is, "Saint Louis."
The statue featured heavily in St. Louis iconography until the completion of the Gateway Arch in the 1960s. The statue in profile is the image on the arms and Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 138th Infantry Regiment (aka "The First Missouri" and "St. Louis' Own'") of the U.S. Army and Missouri National Guard. It was used as part of the logo for the St. Louis Browns in the 1930s and 40s. In 2008 it was resurrected by St. Louis Soccer United for use on their logo and converted to Joan of Arc for the St. Louis Athletica. This transmutation was made legitimate by the reconciling of Arc with Arch.
Over the years, Saint Louis' sword has been broken or stolen a number of times. It was replaced in 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1981. Stealing, and later returning, the sword was considered a rite of passage for students in the engineering program at nearby Washington University. The statue was restored in 1999 by Russell-Marti Conservation Services for $23,000.
- "St. Louis City History of Forest Park". City of St. Louis. Retrieved 2010-02-20.