The Spirit of Enterprise (1958)

by Jacques Lipchitz (1891 - 1973)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
Central Terrace of Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden (north of Boathouse Row on Kelly Drive)
1958

  • Title

    The Spirit of Enterprise

  • Artist

    Jacques Lipchitz (1891 - 1973)

  • Year

    1958; installed 1960; relocated 1986

  • Medium

    Bronze, on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 10’5″; width 14’10”, depth 12' (base height 4’8″, width 5'6 1/2", depth 12'2")

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

For the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial, the trustees of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) imagined a large bronze representing America’s “Constructive Enterprise” – ”the vigor, the power of harnessed nature, or the strength of men harnessing nature and making it conform to their uses and desires.”

“Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with fearless and eager eyes, as vigorous as a young man to run a race,” – Theodore Roosvelt

The commission was granted in 1950 to Jacques Lipchitz. After numerous studies, the casting in 20 separate pieces began and the massive bronze was installed in the Memorial’s North Terrace in 1960. It was moved to the Central Terrace in 1986 to increase its visibility from Kelly Drive.

Lipchitz’s powerfully optimistic treatment reflects his life-long idealism. The muscular pioneer surges forward, one hand shading his eyes as he scans the horizon, the other holding a caduceus. Echoing his movement is a great eagle, wings outstretched. The link with his Prometheus Strangling the Vulture located outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art is apparent, and many have been tempted to connect the two: here, the eternal battle has ended, and man and bird are united in a common purpose. Lipchitz was particularly pleased by the quotation from Theodore Roosevelt inscribed on the pedestal: “Our nation, glorious in youth and strength, looks into the future with fearless and eager eyes, as vigorous as a young man to run a race.”

Central Terrace of the Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial on Kelly Drive
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 & Chief Curator of the Association for Public Art 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

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.

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Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

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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.

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