Jacques Lipchitz

Study for Monument to ‘The Spirit of Enterprise’


Object: 803 x 724 x 321 mm
Purchased 1959

Display caption

In 1950 Lipchitz was commissioned to contribute a work to an open-air collection of sculpture commemorating American history at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. This is a study for the five-metre-wide Spirit of Enterprise that resulted. It shows a striding pioneer, bearing a caduceus (the ancient symbol of commerce), being led by an eagle. The final monument, his first major American commission, was not inaugurated until 1960.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Jacques Lipchitz 1891-1973

T00320 Study for a Monument to 'The Spirit of Enterprise' 1953

Inscribed with thumb print and '2/7 J Lipchitz' on upper surface of base
Bronze, 31 5/8 x 28 1/2 x 12 5/8 (80 x 72.5 x 32)
Purchased from the artist through Fine Arts Associates, New York (Grant-in-Aid) 1959
Exh: Jacques Lipchitz, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, March-May 1958 (110); Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, May-July 1958 (110); Kunsthalle, Basle, August-September 1958 (99); Städtische Galerie, Munich, September-October 1958 (99); Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, November-December 1958 (99, another work wrongly repr. as 99); Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, May-June 1959 (99); Tate Gallery, November-December 1959 (98) as 'Study for a Monument'
Lit: Irene Patai, Encounters: the Life of Jacques Lipchitz (New York 1961), pp.371-2, 380, 392-3; Jacques Lipchitz with H.H. Arnason, My Life in Sculpture (New York 1972), p.187, repr. fig.168
Repr: A.M. Hammacher, Jacques Lipchitz: his Sculpture (London 1961), pl.100

This is the final study for a monument to 'The Spirit of Enterprise' commissioned in 1950 for Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, which has an open-air collection of sculptures commemorating American history, including works by Saint-Gaudens, Rodin and Epstein, among others. Lipchitz's preliminary sketch showed a pioneer striding forward, carrying the dove of peace and a caduceus, the symbol of commerce, and apparently being guided by an eagle upon which one of his feet was resting. The committee accepted this concept but objected that the eagle was an important American symbol and must not be stepped on. Lipchitz therefore made a number of other sketches which were unfortunately destroyed on 5 January 1952, when his studio burnt down. After moving into his new studio in April 1953, he was delighted to find that it was possible after all to retain his original conception in slightly altered fashion. The eagle re-entered the composition, apparently leading the pioneer in his westward journey across the giant prairies.

The finished work, which follows this sketch quite closely in composition, is a huge bronze about three and a half metres high and nearly five metres wide on a base of black marble. It was placed in position in October 1960.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.451, reproduced p.451