Gérôme sculptures to be installed in Arts Park



August 18, 2016


Commissioned by Charles Schwab, monumental works will live in Arts Park

Allentown, PA—Two towering bronze sculptures that were in storage for the past six years will be reunited in Allentown’s Arts Park on Saturday, August 20, 2016, courtesy of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley. The pair, a masculine steelworker and a thoughtful female figure representing metallurgical science, were gifted to the Museum in 1982 by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and welcomed visitors in the Museum’s portico and on its terrace before being removed in 2010 in advance of the Museum’s most recent renovation. The sculptures spent the next six years under wraps in a room of the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem before it opened. This spring the sculptures were moved to Harry Gordon Studios in Lambertville, New Jersey, for conservation, and following a summer of restoration they will be reinstalled in Allentown.

The creation of the sculptures dates back to the early days of big steel in the Lehigh Valley. It was in 1902 that Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, commissioned one of the preeminent French academic artists of his day, Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), to sculpt two massive bronzes for his new mansion on Riverside Drive between 73rd and 74th Streets in New York City. Schwab was the president of U. S. Steel when the project began, but by the time the sculptures were installed on the second floor of the mansion he had retired from that position to become the first president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

The sculpture that was formerly located in front of the Museum, Metallurgical Science,depicts a female figure dressed in classical clothing with a laurel wreath on her head and sandals on her feet—a personification of advances in the industry. Behind her is a steam descaler used to remove slag from newly formed steel ingots. There is a 43-inch-high plaster maquette, painted white, of this figure in the Musée Georges-Garret at Vesoul, France.The second sculpture, Metallurgical Worker (The Puddler), represents the knowledge gained through traditional, hands-on methods. The dangerous job of the puddler, who stirred molten metal in a large furnace with the kind of poker he is holding, required strength and skill. Gérôme completed both sculptures between 1902 and 1903.

Metallurgical Science andMetallurgical Worker stand nearly eight feet tall each, without their bases. The installation in Arts Park on August 20 will be overseen by Dan Kainz of Dan Kainz Studio and a representative from Harry Gordon Studios.


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Media Contact:  Chris Potash
(610) 432-4333 ext 125
cpotash [at] allentownartmuseum [dot] org