decoration Dr. Arthur R. Metz and His Collection home
The Collection Dr. Metz The Metz foundation
Dr. Metz

Urban Sophisticate

Dr. Metz with friends Chicago loved Dr. Metz. From 1928 to 1952 he was one of Chicago's foremost surgeons, maintaining a private medical practice in that city. For many years he was a member of the senior attending staff of the Department of Surgery at Chicago's Wesley Memorial Hospital. He was the personal physician of Chicago's famous Wrigley family; surgeon in charge of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field; chief surgeon of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad; and chief surgeon of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Apart from his private practice and his various surgical appointments, he was associated with several educational institutions, including the University of Illinois as assistant professor of surgery from 1919 to 1932, Rush Medical College as associate professor of surgery during the following decade, and Northwestern University, where he held a similar post from 1942 to 1952, retiring as associate professor emeritus.

Dr. Metz with patient In 1924, in association with Francis Hoben of the X-ray department of the General Electric Co., Metz worked out a satisfactory combination of barium with other ingredients for use in fluoroscopic examination of the gastrointestinal tract, and the mixture, known as the barium meal, was adopted universally. In 1929 Metz designed a medical examination car for the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific, with a floor plan that included an X-ray fluoroscope and electric generator, an office, and living quarters for a physician, a male secretary, a porter, and a cook. The car was in service from 1930 to 1942, and the company's 15,000 Lines East operating employees were given periodic examinations in the car.

rhino foot jar Collector
Dr. Metz's accomplishments as both a surgeon and an inventor must have given him the financial resources to begin his personal education in the fine arts. His collecting seems to have been influenced by three sources: his early education, his travels in France, and his safari adventures.

Judging from both his book collection and the period in which he was educated, one may assume he had a thorough grounding in the classics: Latin and Greek languages and philosophy were common features of a turn-of-the-century education. This exposure to the classical world, combined with a Victorian gentleman's fascination with scantily clad ladies, may account for Dr. Metz's affinity for researching and collecting bronze casts of allegorical female figures.

plates with images of wildlife and landscape We also know he spent considerable time in France during World War I. Did he go into Paris on leaves during the war? Inscriptions found on engravings in the Metz collection by the French artist Louis Orr indicate that Dr. Metz spent a lot of time in Paris at the artist's studio. If so, he also may have befriended and then become a patron of many minor French sculptors working in the 1920s.

desk set with lions The safari and his ensuing interest in animals certainly influenced his collecting, as well. He became a life member of the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Zoological Society, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He might have begun his collection of Animalier bronzes with the Bugatti Giraffes—purchased in Paris—and then met Carl Akeley during Akeley's years in Chicago. The files in the collection do contain handwritten notes from Akeley that accompanied his purchases of Akeley bronzes. He owned all of Akeley's books, along with an extensive library of volumes covering African wildlife, safari photography, and African folklore.

Dr. Metz at his desk in Chicago apartment Whatever the influence, it is obvious from his library that Dr. Metz spent years educating himself in the fine arts. He enjoyed and lived with his collections in his Chicago apartment and hoped that they would decorate his suite at IU.



Photo captions, top to bottom:  1. Dr. Metz (far left) and a group of friends (including Herman B Wells) gather in the living room of Dr. Metz’s University Club apartment in Chicago  2. Dr. Metz in his medical examination car, ca. 1930-1940  3. A genuine rhinoceros foot lined in copper is topped by a collar of beaten copper and a matching copper lid. The lid’s finial is a tiny (2 1/4 in.-long) bronze sculpture of a standing rhinoceros. It is signed on the base "J L Clark/Copyright 1927."   4. Two of a set of six Wedgwood collector plates, each painted with a safari border and featuring a different animal: springbok, elephant, waterbuck, lion, warthog, giraffe. Marked on back: “Suid-Afrika/Nassionale Kruger-Wildtuin/ Kruger National Park/Sponsored by McLaren, Campbell & Co., Johannesburg, South Africa/Wedgwood of Etruria & Barlaston, Made in England.”   5. A bronze desk set of indeterminate date features a standing lion on a marble, with a bronze blotter topped with a small lion finial.   6. Dr. Arthur Metz surrounded by his collections, in his University Club apartment, Chicago, Illinois, possibly taken in the 1950s
[ back to top ]
decoration decoration