Carl Milles was 55 years old, and a famous sculptor in Europe when he became the head of the Sculpture department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1931. He was particularly well known for his large-scale fountains that graced Stockholm and several other cities in his homeland of Sweden. Greek and Roman mythology, the Bible, and Scandinavian history and folk tales were often sources for the subjects of his works. Milles also had a personal collection of plaster castings of Greek sculpture that influenced his work.
In 1934, George G. Booth, the founder of Cranbrook, purchased bronze castings of most of Milles' sculptures. Many of these are scattered across the Cranbrook campus today. Milles taught at the Academy of Art until 1950. After leaving Cranbrook, he divided his time between the American Academy in Rome, and Millesgarden, his home in Lindigo, Sweden.
Carl Milles in his studio at cranbrook Academy of Art, sculpting the figure of Orpheus for the Orpheus Fountain located in front of the Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. Photograph by Richard G. Askew. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.