Study for "Science Instructing Industry"

  • Kenyon Cox, Study for "Science Instructing Industry", 1898, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ambrose Lansing, 1983.114.17

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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).

Study for "Science Instructing Industry"
16 x 20 in. (40.7 x 50.8 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Ambrose Lansing

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Allegory – arts and sciences – science
  • Study
  • Figure female – knee length
  • Landscape
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI