Leonard Wells Volk arrived in Chicago in 1858 after studying sculpture in Italy, a trip sponsored by his brother-in-law, Stephen Douglas. He created a bust of Senator Douglas and one of President Lincoln. He sculpted Douglas and Lincoln several times over the next few years, and these remain his best-known works.

When Senator Douglas died in 1861, Volk was commissioned to design the Douglas tomb . Funds became available in 1877, and the 96 foot tall tomb was completed in 1881 on Douglas' south side estate.

Volk was also the designer of several of Rosehill's better-known public monuments: Our Heroes and the Volunteer Fireman's Monument. One of his last works was this self-portrait, executed by Gast Monuments. Volk sits in a small island, surrounded by the headstones of his family.

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