Sketch for the Mural at Oberlin College, "The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love"

  • Kenyon Cox, Sketch for the Mural at Oberlin College, "The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love", ca. 1914, oil and pencil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ambrose Lansing, 1983.114.15

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In late 1913, Oberlin College commissioned Kenyon Cox to decorate the new administration building on the campus with a mural in memory of his father, Jacob Dolson Cox. The elder Cox had been governor of Ohio and secretary of the Interior under President Grant, and Cox designed a decorative tablet listing his father’s accomplishments for a small vestibule. After he completed the project, the administrators wanted Cox to come up with another design to complement it. He decided to include a tribute to his mother, Helen Finney Cox, who had made a name for herself in Ohio as a promoter of social work. This study shows Cox’s plan for a lunette titled “The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love,” based on what he described as his mother’s “Biblical charity.” Cox’s depiction of a laurel-crowned, winged figure holding a glowing torch pleased university administrators, who adopted it as the official seal on college publications. (Morgan, Kenyon Cox, 1856-1919: A Life in American Art, 1994)

Title
Sketch for the Mural at Oberlin College, "The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love"
Artist
Date
ca. 1914
Location
Dimensions
11 7/8 x 15 1/4 in. (30.2 x 38.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Ambrose Lansing

Mediums
Mediums Description
oil and pencil on canvas
Classifications
Keywords
  • Allegory – passion – love
  • Object – art object – painting
  • Figure female – full length
Object Number
1983.114.15
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI