Thursday 3 January 2013


The sculpture "Charity Being Kind to the Poor" was designed by Austrian artist Victor Tilgner and cast at the Imperial Art Foundry of Vienna, and it originally adorned one of Melbourne’s landmark buildings—the massive seven-storey Equitable Life Assurance Society Limited headquarters on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets.

Mounted on the red granite portico, the bronze statue was considered ‘the crowning piece’ of the ornate structure. It symbolised the themes of protection and shelter, typical of sculpture commissioned by insurance companies to adorn their corporate buildings at the time.

Although structurally sound, by the late-1950s the building was considered uneconomical and was demolished. The statue group was presented to the University of Melbourne in 1959 by the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited, which company had purchased the building in 1923. It was initially situated at the university’s School of Architecture property at Mount Martha and has been in its present location  (outside the Baillieu Library) since 1981.

This post is part of the Signs, Signs meme.


  1. A magnificent sculpture Nick. It is unfortunate that some of Melbourne's historic architecture was demolished. I often wonder how much some of the buildings would have been enjoyed if they were restored to their former glory.

  2. This is a magnificent sculpture! The attention to detailed garment flow is amazing!

  3. This is truly a superb example of old sculptural art. The faces are beautiful. I agree with Gemma that the flow of the garment is awesome. What a wonderful contribution. Happy New Year.

  4. at least the sculpture was spared, even if she couldn't protect the building itself.

  5. Love the beautiful statues and the story. Thanks!

  6. I'll second other people's comments about this being a magnificent sculpture. Also beautifully photographed.


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