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Where to find 10 extraordinary artworks by the Calder family on display in Philadelphia

Impressive works by three generations of artist are scattered throughout the city.

Alexander Stirling Calder is responsible for the "Swann Memorial Fountain" at Logan Circle.
Alexander Stirling Calder is responsible for the "Swann Memorial Fountain" at Logan Circle.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

On Wednesday, the Calder Foundation of New York City is announcing that a long-sought showcase for the work of modern artist Alexander Calder will be coming to Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, breaking ground this fall and looking for completion by 2025. The work of three generations of artists named Calder will be on view in the first locale dedicated to Calders anywhere in the world. But this is Philadelphia — you don’t have to wait to see amazing works by Alexander Milne Calder, his son Alexander Stirling Calder, and his son Alexander “Sandy” Calder. The work of grandfather and progeny can be found all over the city. Here are some noteworthy examples:

William Penn by Alexander Milne Calder

The progenitor of the Calder clan in Philadelphia is Scottish-born Alexander Milne Calder, who produced more than 250 sculptures for City Hall alone. City Hall offers up his best-known work, and of all the sculptures, none is more widely known than the massive William Penn that tops City Hall tower.

It was cast in 1892. It stands over 36 feet tall and weighs more than 53,000 pounds.

Gen. George Gordon Meade by Milne Calder

But City Hall isn’t all Milne Calder is about. His Gen. George Gordon Meade, cast in 1887, is an equestrian statue that stands on Lansdowne Drive, north of Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. Meade sits astride Old Baldy, whose stuffed head has graced various Philadelphia Civil War museums for more than 150 years.

Swann Memorial Fountain by Alexander Stirling Calder

Alexander Stirling Calder, son of Milne Calder, is responsible for another Philadelphia landmark, Swann Memorial Fountain (1920-24). Stirling Calder, born here in 1870, created the famous fountain figures to represent Philadelphia’s three main waterways: the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, and Wissahickon Creek. Attendant turtles and frogs lend playfulness to the allegorical design.

Samuel Gross by Stirling Calder

Samuel Gross (1897), the great surgeon depicted in a famous painting by Thomas Eakins, is also the subject of a bronze statue by sculptor Stirling Calder. It was originally installed at the Army Medical School in Washington, on what became the National Mall. In April 1970, it was relocated to the campus of what is now Thomas Jefferson University, near 10th and Locust Streets.

Ghost by Alexander “Sandy” Calder

Alexander “Sandy” Calder, Stirling Calder’s son, born in 1898, is best known in Philadelphia, where he spent his boyhood, by Ghost (1864), a kinetic sculpture hanging in the Great Stair Hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA is also home to one of the world’s great collections of Marcel Duchamp, who gave Calder the name for his signature artworks — mobiles.

Man Cub by Alexander Stirling Calder

Route Barrée by Alexander “Sandy” Calder

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Stirling Calder attended art school, has a sculpture of Sandy Calder made by his father when Sandy was 3 years old. Man Cub (1901-02) is not currently on view, but Sandy Calder’s mobile Route Barrée (1962), a red, black, and white mobile is on view in PAFA’s Hamilton Building at Broad and Cherry Streets.

White Cascade by Alexander “Sandy” Calder

The world’s largest mobile, Sandy Calder’s White Cascade (1976) fills the atrium of the Federal Reserve Bank building on North Sixth Street. The piece is about 100 feet in length and 60 feet wide.

Banners by Alexander “Sandy” Calder

Three Discs, One Lacking by Alexander “Sandy” Calder

Developer Jack Wolgin commissioned a set of banners from Sandy Calder for his Centre Square development in the 1970s. The set of eight colorful banners were subsequently lost for decades, as the building passed through several ownership changes and renovations.

But through intrepid sleuthing Susan Davis, head of public art at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, tracked them down in an old storage closet and now the banners grace the Central Branch of the Free Library on Logan Square — across the way from Stirling Calder’s Swann Memorial Fountain, down the Parkway from Milne Calder’s City Hall, down from the silent presence of Ghost at the PMA, and the blackness of Three Discs, One Lacking (1968), a stabile — or stationary sculpture — on the Parkway between 16th and 17th Streets.

This article has been updated to correct the dates for the creation of Swann Fountain.