Billy (1914)

by Albert Laessle (1877 - 1954)

Photo Caption: Photo Caitlin Martin © 2018 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title


  • Artist

    Albert Laessle (1877 - 1954)

  • Year

    1914; installed 1919; recast 2018

  • Location

    Rittenhouse Square, Walnut Street between 18th and 19th Streets

  • Medium

    Bronze on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 2'2″ (base 1’10”)

  • Themes

    The Animal Kingdom

Gift of Eli Kirke Price II to the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art)

Owned by the City of Philadelphia

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At A Glance

  • Rendered after artist Albert Laessle’s family goat

  • Laessle portrayed animals so realistically that he was charged with casting directly from life

  • The sculpture was recast in 2018 because it showed significant signs of wear after a century of being loved by children

Billy sculpture with a young girl, 1919
A young child stands with Billy in 1919, the year the sculpture was installed. Photo © Association for Public Art

Billy, inspired by and rendered after a family goat, was one of several animal studies that Albert Laessle created. Laessle’s work portrayed animals so realistically that he was accused by fellow students and art jurors of casting directly from life. He silenced his critics by making a similar sculpture in wax, a material that could not easily be cast.

Billy was given to the City of Philadelphia by Eli Kirke Price II through the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art), and was installed in 1919 to the delight of the many children who have frequented Rittenhouse Square since that time. The sculpture had originally been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art’s 110th Annual Exhibition in 1915. A later sculptural group of Pan, Dancing Goat, and Duck and Turtle (c. 1928) is installed in Camden, New Jersey, in a park in front of the Walt Whitman Center, formerly a public library.

In 2018, the City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (Creative Philadelphia) oversaw the conservation of the artwork. After a century of being climbed on and exposed to the elements, the bronze sculpture began to wear thin in certain areas. A new cast of Billy was installed in September 2018, and the original work will be moved indoors to the children’s room of the Philadelphia City Institute library branch in Rittenhouse Square.

Voices heard in the Museum Without Walls: AUDIO program: Philip Price, Jr. (1934-2023) was the grandson of Eli Kirk Price II, who was responsible for purchasing Billy for installation in Rittenhouse Square. He served on the Board of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art). Nancy Heinzen is the author of The Perfect Square, a history of Rittenhouse Square. She has been a resident of Rittenhouse Square for over 40 years and is committed to its preservation. Philip Hyun Su and Sarah Mi Ae Price are the great-great-grandchildren of Eli Kirk Price II. | Segment Producer: Sharon Mashihi

Museum Without Walls: AUDIO is the Association for Public Art’s award-winning audio program for Philadelphia’s outdoor sculpture. Available for free by phone, mobile app, or online, the program features more than 150 voices from all walks of life – artists, educators, civic leaders, historians, and those with personal connections to the artworks.



This artwork is part of the Around Rittenhouse Square tour

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