Detail from Osborne Gates--The Crane and the Peacock

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This bronze gate was one of six commissioned for the William Church Osborne Memorial Playground in Manhattan's Central Park. Each panel shows a tale from Aesop's Fables, a collection of ancient Greek stories that teach moral lessons to schoolchildren. In The Crane and the Peacock, the peacock boasts that his plumage is bright and beautiful. As she flies away, the crane points out that despite her dull feathers she can see the world from the skies, while the vain peacock is stuck on the ground. Aesop's fable persuades us that fine feathers do not necessarily make fine birds. To tell the story, Manship created a circle extending from the crane's right wing through the peacock's train and finally through an invisible diagonal line that links the two birds' eyes and beaks. The delicate clouds give the crane's domain a buoyant feeling, while the dense foliage suggests the weight of the peacock’s earthbound existence.
Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Paul Manship
Restrictions & Rights
©1952, Paul Manship
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
Object number
Paul Manship, born St. Paul, MN 1885-died New York City 1966
Literature\Aesop\Crane and Peacock
29 x 43 x 3 1/2 in. (74.0 x 110.0 x 9.0 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum