Shakespeare Memorial, Philadelphia

Shakespeare Memorial, Philadelphia

The Shakespeare Memorial in Philadelphia stands as a testament to the city's appreciation of the Bard's literary genius. Conceived in 1892 by artist John Sartain, a member of the Fairmount Park Art Association (now known as the Association for Public Art), the idea was to honor William Shakespeare through a monument funded by public and private subscriptions. However, it wasn't until the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1916 that this concept gained significant momentum, highlighting Philadelphia's need for a Shakespearean tribute.

By 1917, sufficient funds had been raised for the memorial. The development of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during this time led to the commissioning of Alexander Stirling Calder for the project. Calder, renowned for his other local works such as the Swann Memorial Fountain and the Calder Statues, was chosen to bring this vision to life.

The original location for the memorial was in front of the Free Library. The sculpture was cast in 1926 by the Roman Bronze Works and was officially dedicated on April 23, 1929, coinciding with Shakespeare’s birthday. However, due to expressway construction, the memorial was relocated in 1953 to its current position.

The sculpture itself is a poignant representation of Shakespeare's themes of Comedy and Tragedy. It features two figures: Hamlet, depicted in a moment of introspection with his head resting against a knife, and Touchstone, the jester from "As You Like It," captured in a moment of laughter at Hamlet's feet. The base of the sculpture bears the famous quote from "As You Like It": “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” encapsulating the essence of Shakespeare's perception of life and human experience.

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Shakespeare Memorial on Map

Sight Name: Shakespeare Memorial
Sight Location: Philadelphia, USA (See walking tours in Philadelphia)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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