spirit of progress

The «Spirit of Progress»

“American Progress” by John Gast

In 1872, John Gast (1842-?) painted American Progress (Museum of the American West, Autry National Center, Los Angeles), an allegorical representation of North American West modernization.


Cleveland Industrial Exposition (1909)

The Spirit of Progress in Cleveland Industrial Exposition (1909) …

Spirit of Progress in Hudson-Fulton Celebration (1909)

Progress in “Travail et Progrès” (1910)

The frontspice of “Travail et Progrès” [Work and Progress], published, in Paris, in 1910, by Philippe Hettinger, presents Progress, the Spirit of Progres, figured as a young woman standing on a winged weel — the Weel of Progress —, holding an electric lamp in her right hand, and crossing an industrial landscape (factory, train, bridge, baloon, …). That central image is surrounded by steam ships and technical objects (photo camera, telephone, electric wires, …) that were quite new then.

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Montgomery Ward’s emblem

Montgomery Ward — an American department store chain founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward (1844-1913), in 1872, and that went on business till 2001 — chose the Spirit of Progress as its emblem.

Montgomery Ward’s Spirit of Progress figure — “Progress Lighting the Way of Commerce” — was inspired by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ sculptures of Diana (the Roman goddess for hunting), one placed on top of the Agricultural Building in the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893), another one placed on top of the tower of the second Madison Squate Garden building (1890-1925).


American Progress in Rockefeller Center (New York)

Spirit of Progress in Rockefeller Center (New York)

The Spirit of Progress, by Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935), represents understanding between labor and capital.

A central figure — the Spirit of Progress — stands on a portico. Capital, on his left, holds a bag of gold. Labor, on his right, holds a rivet hammer. Both figures point their hands up toward the figure banner with the word understanding on it.


Victorian Railways Spirit of Progress (1937)

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