PhiladelphiaAntiquesWeek.com recently offered visitors to Philadelphia’s Antiques Week five reasons to revisit this year including a new home at the Convention Center for the Philadelphia Antiques Show, an exhibit on firefighter memorabilia at the 23rd Street Armory Antiques Show, some recently acquired paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an exhibit relating to Dr. Barnes at PAFA and the Wanamaker organ.
The last one is particularly intriguing, and one of my favorite things to catch when I am in Philadelphia. Where else can you hear organ music while shopping for lingerie? It brought to mind a few more historically-oriented things to catch when you’re out for a break from the antiques shows. And I’m not talking Liberty Bell.
First up is the Spirit of Transportation in 30th Street Station. It may just be about all that’s left of the old Broad Street Station. This relief sculpture by Karl Bitter is located in the northwest corner of the main waiting area. Few may notice it, however. Bitter was born and trained in Vienna and discovered in the U.S. by Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of choice of many of New York’s rich and famous. The Spirit of Transportation is represented in triumphal procession of progress led by a little child ironically carrying a model of an airship.
You’ll also want to check out the progress on the Barnes Foundation museum, but on the way don’t miss the Rodin Museum. From 2008 to 2011, the Rodin Museum underwent the first two phases of a three-stage rejuvenation project, with the ultimate goal of restoring the building and grounds in the spirit of their original 1929 design. The gardens are open, but the interior of the building is still closed for renovation.
Monuments in Rittenhouse Square. The square itself is quite a treat to visit, but take a moment to look at the sculpture. There are some big name artists here including Lion Crushing a Serpent by Antione Louis Barye, Duck Girl by Paul Manship and Evelyn Taylor Price Sundial by Beatrice Fenton. Philadelphia’s own Thomas Eakins painted Fenton in the canvas titled The Coral Necklace. This painting is on display at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.
On the topic of Thomas Eakins, standing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and facing City Hall is Eakins Oval, named for the artist. At the center of the oval is Washington Monument fountain. It was commissioned and designed by sculptor Rudolf Siemering and dedicated in 1897 at the Green Street entrance to Fairmount Park. It was moved in 1928. If it feels like you are close to the first president, it’s because you are. The face of the sculpture was made from an impression of the former president made while he was still alive.