E. R. Walker, ‘Statue of Industry (left) and the Statue of the Republic (right). Chicago 1893 World Exposition’, 1893/1893c, Contemporary Works/Vintage Works

Daniel Chester French, who also sculpted Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, sculpted the much-vaunted statue. The work received its nickname, Big Mary, since it stood a full six-stories tall.

The Statue of Industry" was created by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter (1857-1923). In 1883 he became an assistant to Daniel Chester French and concentrated on animal studies and working as a manager and salesman in the quarries. His most famous works are the marble lions, nicknamed Patience and Fortitude, in front of the New York Public Library. For the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago he collaborated with his teacher and friend Daniel Chester French on several of the important sculptures of the exposition. Unfortunately these statues, like most of the architecture of the fair, were made of staff, a temporary material of plaster, cement, and jute fibers, first used in buildings of the Paris exhibition in 1878.

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago was billed as a world's fair to surpass all previous world's fairs. Conceived to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage to the New World, the fair became a triumphant celebration of America's Gilded Age of optimism and innovation. From May 1 to October 31 of that year, more than 27 million people visited the 633-acre exposition in Jackson Park known as "The White City."