Sylvia Shaw Judson (1897–1978) was a professional sculptor who worked first in Chicago and later in Lake Forest, Illinois. She created a broad range of sculptural artworks, notably garden pieces depicting children and animals. For more than fifty years she sculpted life-size human figures in an era when critics and curators favored abstract works. Many years after she died, her serenely simple Bird Girl came to be widely known and admired.
A child of a well-to-do family, Sylvia Shaw Judson enjoyed idyllic carefree summers and the benefits of private schools, foreign travel, social connections, and several years of training and internship with the best teachers. Even after she became an acclaimed artist in her own right, she continued to be identified as the daughter of Howard Van Doren Shaw, a prominent architect who died in 1926, early in her career. She called him "the most important influence on my life as a sculptor."
Forty years after her father's death, Judson dedicated her book For Gardens and Other Places to him, and wrote that "he intended me to be his own private sculptor." But as much as she evidently wished to give him credit for her success, it was largely the result of her own artistic creativity and hard work. The exact number of works she created is uncertain, probably about eighty in all. They were meant to be objects of quiet contemplation, and most are not on public view.