The Centennial: May 10, 1876 to November 10, 1876
“Plans for an eleaborate architectural scheme for the Centennial were abandoned in 1874, only two years before the scheduled opening. Filling the vacuum was Herman J. Schwarzmann, a recent immigrant from Austria, who had served as an architect for the commissioners of Fairmount Park. Schwarzmann, who had also helped to plan Fairmount Park and had landscaped the Philadelphia Zoo, presented a proposal for the Centennial Art Gallery (now Memorial Hall) that was quickly accepted.
Memorial Hall is the only major Centennial structure that still stands in Fairmount Park. It was also the only fireproof building constructed, as it was intended to remain as a monument to the Centennial in the form of a permanent art gallery. In 1876 the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art was chartered and Memorial Hall opened as the Pennsylvania Museum of Art in May 1887. The first American art museum in the Beaux-Arts style, it was a model for other museums in the country and, curiously, influenced the design of the Reichstag, the German parliament building in Berlin.
Outdoor sculpture was found throughout the Centennial landscape. The Centennial’s Germanic character was influenced, or course, by the chief architect, Schwarzmann. A German artist, Vincenz Pilz, created the two Pegasus sculptures in front of Memorial Hall, and Wilhelm Wolff’s Dying Lioness was purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association for exhibition at the Centennial. (It was later placed in front of the Philadelphia Zoo.) Richard Wagner, of all people, composed the ‘Centennial March,’ further indication of the Teutonic influence.
Religious and ethnic groups also erected memorials on the Centennial grounds, five of which are still on public view in Philadelphia. The Presbyterians commemorated the Reverend Doctor John Witherspoon, the Italian Americans presented a memorial to Columbus, the German community unveiled a statue of Alexander von Humboldt, and the Jewish order of B’nai B’rith contributed a monument to Religious Liberty. All of the sculptures were trained in France, Germany, or Italy.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 53 – 57)
The Lion Fighter
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Albert Wolff (1814-1892), 1858, cast 1892
“The original Lion Fighter sits as a companion piece to Auguste Kiss’s Amazon on the steps of the National Museum in Berlin. The Fairmount Park Art Association purchased the original plaster casts for both works in 1889 and placed them in Memorial Hall for public viewing. This bronze was cast locally by Bureau Brothers for exhibition at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. When returned to Philadelphia, it was installed on a ‘jutting rock’ on East River Drive. It was moved to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum in 1929.
Albert M. Wolff was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, and began his studies with the renowned artist Christian Rauch at the age of 17. Wolff became knowned and respected for the garden sculpture he created for Sans Souci in Potsdam. (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992:198)
Mounted Amazon Attacked by a Panther
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Auguste Kiss (1802-1865) c. 1837, cast 1929
“Mounted Amazon Attacked by a Panther is the work of Auguste Kiss, a student of Christian Rauch. Caught in the midst of the attack, the figures convey the violence and emotional tension of the monument. The Amazon was installed in 1837 at the steps of the newly built National Museum in Berlin, standing alone for several years until Albert Wolff, another student of Rauch’s, completed a companion piece, The Lion Fighter. The Fairmount Park Art Association acquired the plaster casts for both works in 1889.
The decision to commission only American art prompted the Art Association to present the Amazon to Harvard’s Germanic Museum. However, once construction began on the new Museum of Art, the Art Association arranged to cast another copy to sit across from The Lion Fighter.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 197)
Memorial Hall, Front Entrance, North Concourse Drive, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Vincenz Bildhauer Pilz (1816-1896) c. 1863
“Two figures of Pegasus accompanied by the muses Erato (love poetry) and Calliope (epic poetry) were designed by Vincenz Pilz for the Imperial Opera House in Vienna (1861). Once installed high upon the building, the sculptures were thought to be out of scale and were removed, with the firm order from the Austrian government to melt them down. Fortunately, the foundry obtained permission to sell the sculptures instead, and they were purchased by Robert H. Gratz, a Philadelphia businessman. Gratz offered the winged horses to the Fairmount Park Commission, and in the year of the Centennial Exposition, they were installed in front of Memorial Hall.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992:199)
The Dying Lioness
Philadelphia Zoological Gardens Entrance, 34th Street and Girard Avenue
Wilhelm Franz Alexander Friedrich Wolff (1816-1887) 1873; cast 1875
“Having won a first prize at the Vienna International Exhibition (1873), the model for The Dying Lioness, caught the attention of Herman J. Schwarzmann, master architect for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, who shared his discovery with the Fairmount Park Art Association. The emperor of Germany had already been promised the first casting of the piece for the Imperial Garden in Berlin, and he granted the Art Association permission to purchase a second casting. Upon arrival in Philadelphia, it was exhibited outdoors at the 1876 Centennial.
The artist was the younger brother of Albert Wolff, sculptor of The Lion Fighter and was known for his powerful and allegorical renderings of animals.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 200)
Catholic Total Abstinence Union Fountain
North Concourse Drive and States Street, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Herman Kirn (d. After 1911) c. 1876
“Following the Civil War, an international temperance movement spawned a number of organizations. The Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America, over half of whose members were Pennsylvanians, built a fountain for the nation’s Centennial in Philadelphia. The fountain is designed in the shape of a Maltese cross, with nine-foot figures at its exterior points representing three prominent Catholics of the Revolutionary era – Commodore John Barry, Archbishop John Carroll, Senator Charles Carroll – and the contemporary temperance preacher, Father Theobald Mathew. These 16-ton figures loom over drinking fountains, while the central figure, Moses, gestures toward the heavens, the source of all water. All are encircled by a wall with medallions that depict other prominent Catholics who participated in the American Revolution.
Kirn came to the United States as a child but returned to his native Germany to study with Carl Steinhauser. After creating this fountain, he moved back to Philadelphia, where he worked as a restorer for the Fairmount Park Commission and later carved Toleration.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 201)
Toleration or William Penn
East Bank of the Wissahickon Creek below Walnut Lane Bridge, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
Herman Kirn (d. After 1911) 1883
“The work’s title not doubt reflects the Quaker beliefs that Penn espoused. The figure looms over the Wissahickon Valley, where Lenni Lenape Indians formerly wandered.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 205)
Progess of Transportation
30th Street Station interior, 30th and Market Streets, Philadelphia
Karl Bitter (1867-1915) 1895
“The architect Frank Furness hired Karl Bitter to design five reliefs for the exterior of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broad Street Station. When the station was demolished in 1952, only this panel, which had been moved 20 years before to 30th Street Station, was saved.
The mural depicts the ‘Spirit of Transportation,’ embodied by a figure of a woman seated in a horse-drawn carriage and surrounded by allegorical figures. To her right, historical modes of transportation are represented by a wagon drawn by oxen; to her left is the future in the form of a steam locomotive, a steamboat, and an airship (though the Wright brothers would not fly at Kitty Hawk for another eight years).
Bitter was born in Vienna, where he had studied stone carving a then sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts until called to military service. After serving one of three mandatory years, he came to America in 1889, attracted, like many European artists, by the demand for decorative and ornamental work for buildings and monuments.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 207)
Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Eakins Oval, Philadelphia
Rudolf Siemering (1835-1905) 1897
“The State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania was founded at the City Tavern in Philadelphia on October 4, 1783, to commemorate those who had fought together during the War of Independence and assist members or their families. On Independence Day in 1810, the Pennsylvania Society resolved ‘to establish a permanent memorial of their respect for the memory of the late father of his country, General George Washington.’
Funds for the monument accumulated slowly, but in 1881, a final contract was signed with Professor Rudolf Siemering of Berlin. Siemering was born in Königsberg in 1835 and studied there before moving to Berlin in 1858. Siemering quickly gained an international reputation for his monumental sculpture, and was working on the Leipzig War Monument when the Society of Cincinnati contacted him.
For this commission, Siemering was particularly concerned that the figures be accurate in features and dress. He modeled Washington’s face from a copy of a mask made during the late general’s life and asked for photographs and prints. Siemering used his distinctive baroque style to depict Washington within the context of the general’s country and his times. The monument is ‘constructed’ in three zones or levels, each representing a different concept: Washington (the hero) sits at the top; allegorical figures depicting his time are on the middle level; and on the lowest level are the flora and fauna of his country with representative figures.
The monument was unveiled on May 5, 1897, at the Green Street entrance to Fairmount Park. The event was celebrated nationally, and William McKinley presided over the dedication ceremony. When the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was completed in 1928, the monument was moved to its terminus in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 208 – 209)
Market Street Bridge at the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia
Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870-1952) 1903
“Adolph Alexander Weinman was born in Carlsruhe, Germany, in 1870. When he was 10 years old, his widowed mother brought him to New York, where he later apprenticed with a carver of wood and ivory. In the evenings, he studied at Cooper Union and frequented the Art Students League. Weinman was interested in medallic as well as sculptural art and is known for designing the 1916 dime and half-dollar.
The architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White hired Weinman to design ornamental figures for the Pennsylvania Station Building in New York City (1903). Using Milford pink granite from Massachusetts, he also carved 14 eagles for the roof, each weighing 5,500 pounds, and 8 smaller eagles of Knowville marble. When the station was demolished in 1963, four of the large eagles were given to the Fairmount Park Art Association. They were installed four years later on the Market Street Bridge. (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 210)
Kelly Drive south of Girard Avenue Bridge – Central Terrace, Philadelphia
Heinz Warneke (1895-1983) 1940
Opposite The Slave is Heinz Warneke’s representation of The Immigrant. Born in Germany, Warneke himself became an immigrant to the United States at the age of 28. Well known for his animal sculptures, such as Cow Elephant and Calf, he also created monumental human figures for a number of public sites, including government buildings in Washington, D.C. In contrast to the enthusiasm expressed in Sterne’s Welcoming to Freedom, Warneke’s Immigrant is a rather melancholy figure. (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 223)
The Birth of a Nation
Kelly Drive south of Girard Avenue Bridge – South Terrace, Philadelphia
Henry Kreis (1899-1963) 1943
“In the words of the Memorial committee, the second principal relief in the South Terrace was to be ‘an expression of the agreement among the American people to make and abide by their own laws, free of outside control.’ The commission was awarded to Henry Kreis, who had emigrated from Germany in 1923. A former assistant to Paul Manship and Carl Paul Jennewein, Kreis created sculptures for public buildings in many American cities. As the committee suggested, Kreis avoided such well-worn visual symbols as the Liberty Bell and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Instead, his monument shows three male figures of varying ages, signifying the agreement of young and old to forge a self-governing republic. “(Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 224)
Kelly Drive south of Girard Avenue Bridge – North Terrace, Philadelphia
Waldemar Raemisch (1888-1955) 1952
“Hands cupped near his chin as he speaks, The Preacher is an emblem of the religious figures who have ‘guided our ways’. Raemisch, who fled to the United States from Nazi Germany, later created the bronze groups for Philadelphia’s Youth Study Center, The Great Mother and The Great Doctor.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 225)
North Pediment – Philadelphia Museum of Art
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Carl Paul Jennewein (1890-1978) Completed 1932
“Carl Paul Jennewein’s sculptures for the north pediment draw their content and their technique from ancient Greece. The colored glazing on the terra cotta figures reflects methods used in Greek architectural sculpture over two thousand years ago, and the 13 figures represent gods, mortals and beasts from classical mythology. The theme is that of sacred and profound love. Zeus, ruler of the gods, is the central figure. Immediately to the right, from the viewer’s perspective, is Demeter, here presented as the protector of marriage, holding the hand of the child Triptolemus, whom she rescued from a mortal illness. Next are Ariadne, Theseus slaying the Minotaur, and the beast Python. Beside Zeus to the viewer’s left stand Aphrodite, goddess of love, and her son, Eros, Hippomenes in the form of a lion, Adonis, Nous (the mind), and Eos, goddess of the dawn, who is turning away from the Owl, the bird of night.
Jennewein, a native of Germany, emigrated to New York in 1907. A gifted classical sculpture, he was particularly interested in combining sculpture with architecture.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 220)
All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
J. Otto Schweizer (1863-1955) 1934
“In 1927 the Pennsylvania legislature decided to erect a memorial to the black military men who had served the United States in wartime, and funds were appropriated to construct ‘a lasting record of their unselfish devotion to duty.’
The commission was awarded to J. Otto Schweizer. Born in Zurich, Schweizer studied in Germany and Italy after emigrating to the United States. Working out of a studio in Philadelphia’s Tioga neighborhood, he became a specialist in monumental works, many of which were commissioned for sites in Pennsylvania. His bronze of General Peter Muhlenberg stands near the west entrance of the Museum of Art. He also created a massive sculpture of revolutionary general Friedrich von Steuben for Valley Forge and six statues of Civil War generals for the memorial Park at Gettysburg.
At the top of the All Wars Memorial, Schweizer placed a ‘torch of life’, surrounded by four American eagles. Below stands an allegorical figure of Justice, holding symbols of Honor and Reward. To the left and right are groups of black soldiers and sailors, both officers and enlisted men. Allegorical figures at the rear of the monument represent the principles for which American wars have been fought.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 226)
The Great Mother and The Great Doctor
Youth Study Center, 20th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Waldemar Raemisch (1888-1955) 1955
“The southwestern facade of the Youth Study Center, a juvenile detention facility designed by architects Carroll, Grisdale and Van Alen, presents a large expanse of unadorned wall at each end. For the lawn in front of these blank areas, the architects commissioned sculptures by Waldemar Raemisch to represent the ‘spirit of juveniles.’ In each of the two groups, a seated, central figure is surrounded by idealized compositions of children and attending adults. The central figures symbolize a universal Mother and a Doctor or Healer, respectively — allegorical expressions of the care, comfort, and guidance that adults can offer to children. From a distance each group blends into a whole, almost as if the figures were carved in relief on the building itself.
A refugee from Nazi Germany, Raemisch taught at the Rhode Island School of Design. The Great Mother and The Great Doctor were his last works.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 231)
Cow Elephant and Calf
Philadelphia Zoological Gardens, 34th Street & Girard Avenue, Philadelphia
Heinz Warneke (1895-1983) 1962
“Years ago a traveler on the train from New Haven to Washington glanced out the window as his car pased the Philadelphia Zoo. ‘Just look,’ he exclaimed to his wife, ‘at the mother elephant left wandering about loose at this hour with her calf. What in the world do the Zoo people mean?’
This story was gleefully related in a letter by sculptor Heinz Warneke, who was responsible for the apparent transgression. Warneke’s Cow Elephant and Calf , a life-size, 37-ton monolith, stands near the Zoo’s main entrance. It is considered the largest free-standing single-block sculpture in the United States. The immense block of stone – a gray Bergan granite that simulates an elephant’s hide – was quarried and rough-cut at the small Norwegian town of Larvik. The final carving was done by Oslo stonecutters guided by Warneke.
In the early 1940s he carved the work for which he is best known in Pennsylvania, the Nittany Lion at the Penn State campus in State College.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 233)
Jesus Breaking Bread
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Logan Square, 18th and Race Streets, Philadelphia
Walter Erlebacher (1933-1991) 1976
“Commissioned for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress, which met in Philadelphia in 1976, Walter Erlebacher’s sculpture presents a figure of Jesus holding two pieces of broken bread, a symbol of Holy Communion. During the Congress, which attracted over a million visitors to the city, the sculpture was displayed at the Civic Center. Later it was moved to a site near the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, and its formal blessing at this location took place on May 26, 1978. Standing near the sidewalk, it offers an accessible, immediate, and lifelike Jesus.
Erlebacher, born in Germany, was known for idealized renderings of the human body that are reminiscent of classical Greek sculptures of gods and heroes. He also created the figures for Day Dream Fountain.” (Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992: 241)