Social Consciousness

Works of Art

A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.

For decades this dramatic sculpture by Jacob Epstein has been located at the west entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  With proper lighting conditions, and when the background sky is cloudless, the sculpture presents a wonderful opportunity for photography, as shown to the right and below.   In the summer of 2019, the sculpture was moved to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where its surroundings will provide a completely different (more complex) background.    



A description of the sculpture is found here and quoted below:


“At the West Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the elongated figures of Jacob Epstein’s Social Consciousness (1954) suggest sympathy, tenderness and sorrow for human suffering. The three parts of Social Consciousness are (left to right) The Great Consoler (or Compassion), The Eternal Mother (or Destiny) and Succor (or Death). At the base of the statue the last two lines of Walt Whitman’s poem, America, is engraved:

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.”



News item from the University of Pennsylvania, July 2019