Mozart School
Characters from Children's Literature, 1937

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart School, classroom 203
220 North Hamlin Avenue

Oil on canvas, two murals 6' x 20' each
Artist: Charles Freeman (dates unknown)
Commissioned by: the Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project
Restored by: the Board of Education, 1997

The depiction of characters from children's literature is a typical subject for WPA murals in the libraries of public grade schools. In the former library of the Mozart School, now used as a classroom, two colorful murals are filled with a panorama of literary figures, framed on all four sides by a listing of their names. In one panel Mary and her lamb, the Queen of Hearts, Jack and Jill, Old King Cole, and characters from Mother Goose stand side by side with Peter Pan, Rip Van Winkle, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, and the Pied Piper of Hamelin, favorites in the 1930s and still popular today. Illustrated in the other panel are the imaginatively rendered folk of such fairy tales and classic books as Cinderella, Huckleberry Finn, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Deerslayer, Tom Sawyer, and Little Women. Each character is dressed in the appropriate costume and holds a prop for easy identification: William Tell carries a basket of apples, Aladdin grasps his magic lamp, and the prince holds a glass slipper as he kneels before Cinderella.

Mozart School, Characters from Children's Literature, oil on canvas, detail from right panel, one of two. Photograph by James Prinz Photography, mural commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project; © 1999, the Art Institute of Chicago, all rights reserved.

An image from A Guide to Chicago's Murals by Mary Lackritz Gray

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