Joe Brown (sculptor)

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Benjamin Franklin - Craftsman (1981), Philadelphia, PA.

Joe Brown (March 20, 1909, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - March 14, 1985, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American figurative sculptor, specializing in athletes.


The son of Russian immigrants, he grew up in the slums of South Philadelphia. A gifted athlete, he won a 1927 football scholarship to Temple University. He left before graduation, and briefly worked as a professional boxer. He made extra money as an artists' model, and became interested in studying sculpture. He served a 7-year apprenticeship under University of Pennsylvania professor and sculptor R. Tait McKenzie.[1]

Brown became the boxing coach at Princeton University in 1937, continuing until the early 1960s. He began teaching a sculpting course in 1939, became a resident artist at the university, and was made a full professor of art in 1962. He continued teaching at Princeton until his 1977 retirement.

He created more than 400 works - statuettes, portrait busts, and sculptures.[2] Examples are on many college campuses, and in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,[3] the National Academy of Design,[4] Princeton University Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library,[5] and the National Art Museum of Sport.[6]

Selected sculptures[edit]


  • Duke Kahanamoku (1940).[7] Duke Kahanamoku won gold medals in swimming at the 1912 and 1920 Olympic Games.
  • Jack Kelly (1942). Jack Kelly won gold medals in rowing at the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games.
  • Jesse Owens (1942).[8] Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in track & field at the 1936 Olympic Games.
  • Pieta (1944).[9] An exhausted boxer cradled by the referee. Winner of National Academy of Design's Barnett Prize.
  • Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) (1948–49), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio.[10] Huddie Ledbetter was a blues guitarist and jazz pioneer.
  • Bill Bradley (1965). Bill Bradley was a member of the U.S. basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Games.

Portrait busts[edit]

  • Bust of Robert Frost (1953), Jones Library, Amherst, Massachusetts.[11]
  • Bust of Louis Brandeis (1961), Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.[12]
  • Bust of John Steinbeck (1964).


Full-Swing at Citizens Bank Park.

Veterans Stadium[edit]

(Following Veterans Stadium's 2004 demolition, these sculptures were moved to Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.)


  1. ^ "Heroes with Feet of Clay," November 5, 1973 Sports Illustrated article [1]
  2. ^ List of works from SIRIS
  3. ^ Joe Brown from PAFA
  4. ^ Joe Brown from NAD
  5. ^ statuette of Discus Thrower from JFK Presidential Library
  6. ^ Joe Brown from NAMOS
  7. ^ Duke Kahanamoku
  8. ^ Jesse Owens
  9. ^ Pieta
  10. ^ Huddie Ledbetter from SIRIS
  11. ^ Robert Frost from SIRIS
  12. ^ Louis Brandeis from SIRIS
  13. ^ The Runner from SIRIS
  14. ^ Discus Thrower from SIRIS
  15. ^ Two Athletes from SIRIS
  16. ^ Benjamin Franklin - Craftsman from SIRIS
  17. ^ Punter from Flickr
  18. ^ The Punter from SIRIS
  19. ^ Full-Swing from Flickr
  20. ^ The Batter from SIRIS
  21. ^ Tackle from Flickr.
  22. ^ <Tackle from SIRIS
  23. ^ Play at Second from Flickr
  24. ^ Play at Second Base from SIRIS

External links[edit]