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Study for "Science Instructing Industry"

1898 Kenyon Cox Born: Warren, Ohio 1856 Died: New York, New York 1919 oil on canvas 16 x 20 in. (40.7 x 50.8 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Ambrose Lansing 1983.114.17 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 35B

Luce Center Label

In the late nineteenth century, artists decorated America’s public buildings with murals that were meant to teach moral and civic lessons to visitors passing through the halls. Many artists chose mythological or allegorical scenes. In this study, Kenyon Cox represented industry as a muscular young man and science as a laurel-crowned, toga-clad woman. The ruddy skin of the male figure contrasts sharply with the white toga and milky skin of the goddess, a choice Cox made so that the figures, posed closely together, would read clearly from a distance in the finished mural. Cox believed that mythological figures provided more beautiful decoration than figures dressed in contemporary clothes. He once wrote that “The painter who cares greatly for the expressiveness of the body will feel little attraction to belt buckles and brass buttons” (Morgan, Keepers of Culture, 1989).


Allegory - arts and sciences - industry

Allegory - arts and sciences - science

Figure female - knee length

Figure male




paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Kenyon Cox

Born: Warren, Ohio 1856 Died: New York, New York 1919

More works in the collection by
Kenyon Cox