The Scholar, the Laborer, and the Toiler of the Soil

Maurice Ascalon


Copper relief sculpture depicting three hooded men. The one on the left holds a scroll and has a long beard, the middle holds a hammer, and the right holds a hand plow and has a short beard.
Maurice Ascalon, sometimes called the father of modern Israeli decorative arts, was commissioned to create this sculpture for the façade of the Palestine Pavilion of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The fourteen-foot-tall hammered repoussé copper-relief sculpture shows three figures, representing scholarship, industry, and agriculture, all necessary elements of a modern society. While the emphasis in the Palestine Pavilion was on the evolving nature of Jewish life in Palestine, the archaic dress of the figures was intended to assert the centuries-old connection of the Jewish people with the biblical land of Israel.


From Palestine Book, ed. Meyer W. Weisgal (New York: Pavilion Publications, Inc., for the American Committee for Jewish Palestine Participation at the New York’s World’s Fair, 1939). Photo courtesy Spertus Institute.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 9.

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