The Ploughman (1938)

by J. Wallace Kelly (1894 - 1976)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
Central Terrace of Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial (north of Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive)
1938

  • Title

    The Ploughman

  • Artist

    J. Wallace Kelly (1894 - 1976)

  • Year

    1938

  • Medium

    Limestone, on limestone base

  • Dimensions

    Height 5’1″, width 2'10", depth 3'8" (base height 5’7″, width 4'3 1/1", depth 4'3 1/2")

Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art), bequest of Ellen Phillips Samuel

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Commissioned for the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

  • The Ploughman represents the American pioneers who journeyed west in search of new land to settle

  • Artist J. Wallace Kelly was a Philadelphia native who taught at Haverford College and other local schools

The Fairmount Park Art Association’s (now the Association for Public Art) Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial committee sought to commission a work that would represent those American pioneers who journeyed west in search of new land to settle. “Land and gold,” the committee wrote, “were probably the most basic urges that propelled Americans westward across the continent.” The committee asked artist J. Wallace Kelly, a Philadelphia native who taught at Haverford College and other local schools, to create The Ploughman. The sculpture is a dignified celebration of human labor, and sits opposite John B. Flannagan’s The Miner in the Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial.

Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive
The Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial. Photo Caitlin Martin © 2010 for the Association for Public Art.

The Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial

Construction of the Samuel Memorial began with the Central Terrace. Six sculptors were commissioned to create two large bronze monuments and four complementary figures in limestone. These works express the twin themes of America’s westward expansion and the new nation’s welcome to immigrants from other lands.

Sculptures in the Central Terrace:

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

RESOURCES:

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

 

Voices heard in the program:

Penny Balkin Bach is Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) and the author of many books and articles about Philadelphia’s public art.

Kathleen A. Foster is Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Michael Taylor was Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the author of Jacques Lipchitz and Philadelphia.

Segment Producer: Amanda Aronczyk and Ave Carrillo

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, audio download, or on the web – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation. Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

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