Penguins (1917)

by Albert Laessle (1877 - 1954)

Photo Caption: Photo Caitlin Martin © 2015 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Penguins

  • Artist

    Albert Laessle (1877 - 1954)

  • Year

    1917; installed 1919

  • Location

    Philadelphia Zoo, near Bird House entrance; zoo admission (fee) required to view this sculpture

  • Medium

    Bronze, on marble base

  • Dimensions

    Height 25″, width 2'10", depth 1'2 1/2" (base height 3'1", width 2'4", depth 1'7")

  • Themes

    The Animal Kingdom

Purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art)

Owned by the Philadelphia Zoological Society

At A Glance

  • Please note that zoo admission (fee) is required to view this sculpture

  • The artist’s studio was close to the Philadelphia Zoo, which gave him easy access to animal models

  • The Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) purchased one of four casts of the sculpture

  • Laessle’s bronze Billy was installed in Rittenhouse Square the following year

Albert Laessle’s small animal groupings are unique in their realistic yet lively portrayal. Wayne Craven has described the charm of this sculptor’s work: “Laessle could find a kind of drama and humor amid life in the barnyard, his small bronzes became quite popular for their charming expression of animal personalities; this came from an intimate knowledge of their ways.” The artist’s studio was close to the Philadelphia Zoo, which gave him easy access to animal models.

The Penguins were first exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1918. The Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) purchased one of four casts and installed the sculpture at the entrance to the Bird House in the Zoo. Laessle’s bronze Billy was installed in Rittenhouse Square the following year.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992) and Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia’s Treasures in Bronze and Stone by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) (Walker Publishing Co., New York, 1974).

Penguins sculpture at the Philadelphia Zoo
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2015 for the Association for Public Art

 

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