Alexander Milne Calder

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Alexander Milne Calder
Al Milne Calder w Billy.jpg
Fred Ullberg (worker at Tacony Iron Works) with the head of Alexander Milne Calder's statue of William Penn, Philadelphia, 1894
Born(1846-08-23)August 23, 1846
DiedJune 4, 1923(1923-06-04) (aged 76)
EducationPennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Known forSculpture

Alexander Milne Calder (August 23, 1846 – June 4, 1923) (MILL-nee) was a Scottish American sculptor best known for the architectural sculpture of Philadelphia City Hall. Both his son, Alexander Stirling Calder, and grandson, Alexander "Sandy" Calder, became significant sculptors in the 20th century.


Alexander Milne Calder was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, the son of a tombstone carver. He began his career in Scotland, working for sculptor John Rhind, the father of sculptor J. Massey Rhind while attending the Royal Academy in Edinburgh. He moved to London and worked on the Albert Memorial. Calder emigrated to the United States in 1868 and settled in Philadelphia, where he studied with Joseph A. Bailly, and took classes (as would his son Alexander Stirling Calder) at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1873, he was hired by architect John McArthur, Jr., to produce models for the sculptures adorning Philadelphia City Hall. The commission required more than 250 marble and bronze pieces and took Calder twenty years to complete. That same year, Calder was commissioned by the forerunner of Philadelphia's current Association for Public Art, the Fairmount Park Art Association, to create an equestrian statue of Major General George Gordon Meade for Fairmount Park. Then in 1875, he won the competition for the colossal (37 foot tall) bronze statue of William Penn that was to crown the new City Hall's tower. That portrait sculpture remains to this day the largest atop any building in the world.[1][2][3]

Alexander Milne Calder is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in suburban Philadelphia's Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Notable works[edit]



  • Bach, Penny Balkin, Public Art in Philadelphia, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1992 ISBN 0-87722-822-1
  • Craven, Wayne, Sculpture in America, Thomas Y Crowell Co, NY, NY 1968 ISBN 0-87413-225-8
  • Fairmount Park Association, Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone, Walker Publishing Co., Inc, NY. NY 1974 ISBN 0-8027-7100-9
  • Hayes, Margaret Calder Three Alexander Calders, Paul S Eriksson Publisher, Middlebury, Vermont, 1977 ISBN 0-8397-8017-6
  • Kvaran and Lockley, A Guide to Architectural Sculpture in America, unpublished manuscript
  • Williams, Oliver P., County Courthouses of Pennsylvania: A Guide, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA 2001 ISBN 0-8117-2738-6


  1. ^ Fodor's Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, New York: Fodor Travel Publications, 2007, 51.
  2. ^ Hornblum, Allen M., and George J. Holmes, Philadelphia's City Hall, Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.
  3. ^ DK Travel, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Westminster: Penguin Random House, 2017, 74-5.

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