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Youthful Franklin

Youthful Franklin, 1914, Bronze
Robert Tait McKenzie (Canadian, 1867 – 1938)

Gross Area (sq. ft.): 96" high. Striding full figure. Pedestal by Paul P. Cret. 1910-1914.

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R. Tait McKenzie was a Canadian sculptor, physician, educator, athlete, and soldier who began teaching as Penn’s first Professor of Physical Education in 1904. McKenzie became a sculptor because he couldn’t find sculptured pieces that properly illustrated his lectures on anatomy. He later went on to work in relief, and created medallions and awards for the Olympics. McKenzie is recognized not only for his artworks, but also for his accomplishments in the field of physical fitness. Among other accomplishments, he invented methods of rehabilitation for wounded soldiers that laid a foundation for modern physiotherapy practices. In fact, much of McKenzie’s sculptures depict athletes in action—such as the Plunger and Modern Discus Thrower. This piece, Youthful Franklin, demonstrates McKenzie’s mastery. Youthful Franklin was commissioned by the class of 1904, whose members felt that Penn’s campus needed a memorial for the university’s founder. The image of Ben Franklin as a young man—long before his wealth, success, and fame—was chosen to inspire Penn students.

Location: Weightman Hall on 33rd Street. Philadelphia PA

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