Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hope and Help

Hope and Help, 1955
Edouard Chassaing
International Museum of Surgical Science
1524 North Lake Shore Drive

            French-born sculptor Edouard Chassaing (1895-1974) emigrated to the United States in 1928 to participate in the development of the 1933 Century of Progress exposition. Subsequently, he became supervisor for the sculptural program of the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, where he completed the Babylonian Seals and Assyrian Frieze. Following his tenure there, he taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and produced sculpture for public and corporate buildings until his retirement in 1965.
            Hope and Help, Chassaing’s two-figure limestone composition in front of the International College of Surgeons Hall of Fame and Museum of Surgical Science, was dedicated on February 19, 1955. During the ceremony the president of the Society of Medical History, Ilza Keith, stated that “the statue of the surgeon extending his helping hands to a suffering fellow man is eternally and universally representative of the spirit of medicine.” Viewers may find the surgeon stiff and impassive, however, toward a patient whose exaggerated musculature seems an indication of robust health rather than suffering. The stylized lines of the drapery and aloof demeanor of the surgeon are more characteristic of the Near Eastern relief sculpture that Chassaing imitated for the Field Museum than more modern approaches to figurative sculpture.

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