Holding back the grim reaper

Two relief sculptures on the side of the Fulton County Public Health Department in Atlanta, Georgia.


The first is straightforward: the physician warding off death. It’s what they do, to the best of their ability.


The second image is a bit more arcane, not shared as often but equally symbolic.

With thanks to redditor /u/queenbrewer:

“This counterpart bas relief clearly depicts a woman, presumably a nurse, holding a sword. The sword depicts Hygeia , Asclepius’ daughter and the goddess of hygiene, who holds a snake drinking from a bowl, typically symbolizing pharmacy. She fights against a man (perhaps Father Time) holding the mask of tragedy representing suffering in one hand and an hourglass representing aging in the other.”

The TL;DR here seems to be a variant of what I’ve heard around the medical community: “Doctors diagnose, nurses heal.”

Beautiful tributes to all dedicated healthcare workers.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Philadelphia – 3rd International Sculpture Exhibition, 1949

My father was an actor by trade and a sculptor by avocation. He was very good at it, and worked in clay, wood, and stone. When he passed (hang head), most of his work was donated to local musea; a few examples follow.


Paul Muni

Opus 03

Walter Hampden as Cyrano de Bergerac, modeled from life

Opus 08

Negro Dancer, Bronze

Opus 02 - Lear (destroyed)

King Lear, plaster, destroyed

Washingon Square 1

As a young man during the depression, my father and his first wife would lug his sculptures to a display in Washington Square in New York – heavy work, because most of his materials, such as limestone, granite, and wood came from building debris. In the evening, he would lug them all back to his workshop. Sufficie it to say he was passionate about sculpture, and remained so to the end of his days.

In 1949, he and my mother visited the 3rd International Sculpture exhibition in at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was also an avid amateur photographer, and captured some images of the day’s visit. The quality is not spectacular, but there are some interesting pieces to be seen.

Philly - Sculpture 1

Philly - Sculpture 4 Philly - Sculpture 5  Philly - Sculpture Garden  Philly - Mother and Child Philly - Woman with Rose  Philly - Front of Museum Philly - Museum Lion Philly - Museum Fountain Philly - Museum Wall 2 Philly - Sculpture 6 Philly Sculpture 7  Philly Sculpture 9 Philly Sculpture with Joe Philly Sculpture with Marg Philly Sculpture 10  Philly Sculpture 12 Philly Scupture 13 Philly Sculpture 14 Philly Sculpture 15 Philly Sculpture 16 Philly Sculpture Garden 2 Philly Sculpture 17   Philly Sculpture Garden 3 Philly Sculpture with Joe 2 Philly Sculpture with Marg 2   Philly Sculpture 18 Philly Sculpture Garden 4

Clearly my father’s work was influenced by some of the styles that seemed popular in the day:

Opus 45 - Shrouds of Illusion

Opus 49 – “Shrouds of Illusion” – Kasota Stone

Opus 56

Opus 56 – Mother and Child

Opus 49

Opus 49 – Limestone

The Old Wolf has spoken.