University Museums

Title: Reclining Nudes
Name: Bas relief, Mural
Date: 1936
Medium: Terra cotta
Dimensions: 26 x 163 x 5 in. (66 x 414 x 12.7 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Commissioned by Iowa State College for Roberts Hall removed in the 1990s, reinstallation in the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden in 2011. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Anderson Sculpture Garden
Object Number: U88.74
More Information
Reclining Nudes
This terra cotta bas relief, originally installed as a fountain, is a rarity in the work of Christian Petersen. The nude female form common in Petersen's studio works never appeared in his public sculptures until he completed this commission for an Iowa State women's residence hall entrance. The only public large-scale nudes produced by him, the two reclining female figures are gracefully but deeply incised, giving them a strong and formal presence that avoids any suggestion of allure or eroticism.

The sculptures were designed for the steps on Roberts hall and include the line, "and no world more wide, since all her dreams start here and here abide," from the poem "Sancta Ursula" by William Aspenwald Bradley. The figures and text reflect the promise of education, particularly for female students in the 1930s. After this sculptures, Petersen's only other adult nudes would be found in private collections.

These sculptures were removed from Roberts Hall and are currently in storage.