Jon Magnus Jonson designed and sculpted the three figures that adorn the exterior of the Purdue Hall of Music (Elliott Hall) and also cut a portion of the work on the Memorial Union Building. Among other work in Indiana are the artistic fountains in Frankfort and Richmond and a number of the sculpture of the George Rogers Clark Memorial at Vincennes.
Jonson was born in 1893 in North Dakota, to Icelandic immigrant parents. After serving in World War I, he attended art schools in Chicago and New York, eventually joining the faculty at Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield, Mich. Jonson married Lela Maish of Frankfort and maintained a farmhouse in Clinton County with her and their son. Jonson’s critics described his art as “a subtle combination of self-effacement, inner discipline and passion.” He died of a heart attack in 1947 at the age of 53.
His works are known worldwide. Among them are:
• Johnnie Appleseed, figure done in black walnut;
• Countess de Sonic done in plaster;
• Bethroal, depicting two lovers done in Texas Limestone;
• Ruth, a portrait done in Tennessee marble;
• Lot’s Wife, in carraca marble;
• Mother and Child done in Georgia marble;
• The Rearing Horse, done in Indiana limestone;
• Self Portrait, done in plaster;
• Abraham Lincoln, a head carving in African walnut which emphasized
Lincoln’s gentle spirit and honesty
• Adam and Eve, biblical subjects done in soft rose-gray Tennessee marble;
• The Cloud, and equestrian group done in white marble, just to mention
some of the work.