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R. Tait McKenzie

R. Tait McKenzie, 1936, Oil on Canvas
Maurice Molarsky (Russian-American, 1885 – 1950)

R. Tait McKenzie was born in the small town of Almonte, Ontario, where he developed an early love for the outdoors and sports. After turning eighteen, McKenzie enrolled in McGill University. Here he focused his academic interests on the fields of physical therapy and education, having spent twenty years in the institution’s faculty as an undergraduate, assistant trainer, medical student, and finally as Medical Director of Physical Training.

McKenzie later served as the University of Pennsylvania’s first Professor of Physical Education from 1904 to 1929. In this new setting, the multi-faceted expert was able to invest in his diverse passions for art, anatomy, and physical therapy. His list of achievements while in this role include developing a physical education program for the University’s core curriculum; producing multiple sculptures based on the latest anatomical findings; and spearheading the involvement of exercise in medical preventive measures with his seminal work, “Exercise in Education and Medicine”.

This portrait was painted in 1936 by the PAFA-trained, Russian-American artist Maurice Molarksy. The painting depicts McKenzie in full academic regalia during his tenure as Penn’s first J. William White Research Professor of Physical Education.