The Slave (1940)

by Hélène Sardeau (1899 - 1968)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    The Slave

  • Artist

    Hélène Sardeau (1899 - 1968)

  • Year


  • Location

    Central Terrace of Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial (north of Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive)

  • Medium

    Limestone, on limestone base

  • Dimensions

    Height 5’5″, width 3'11", depth 3'11" (base height 5’6″, width 3'11", depth 3'11")

  • Themes

    Black and African American Themes and Artists, Women and Public Art

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

To accompany Maurice Sterne’s Welcoming to Freedom in the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial‘s Central Terrace, the Fairmount Park Art Association’s (now the Association for Public Art) Samuel Memorial committee chose to commission a figure of a shackled slave. “Spiritually,” the committee wrote, “there is an association between the freeing of the slaves and the welcoming [of immigrants] to our shores.” Opposite The Slave is Heinz Warneke’s representation of The Immigrant. Sculptor Hélène Sardeau, born in Belgium, emigrated to the United States as a child. She collaborated on murals and reliefs in Mexico City and Rio de Janiero with her husband, painter George Biddle.

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).

Voices heard in the Museum Without Walls: AUDIO program: Penny Balkin Bach is the former Executive Director & Chief Curator 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 is the former 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

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.



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