Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day Out in London: The New Sculpture Movement

Yesterday I spent the day exploring some London sights related to art history of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. First I visited the Leighton House Museum, the home of Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896), who was an important painter and sculptor in the second half of the nineteenth century. Leighton is associated with both the Aesthetic and the New Sculpture movements. Leighton's Athlete Wrestling with a Python (1877) is noted as the first work in the New Sculpture style, which was recognized by its "concern for detailed modelling [sic] of flesh" (Read 315). Also inside the home is Alfred Gilbert's Icarus (1884), which Leighton commissioned himself. Gilbert is known for his sculpture of Anteros on the Shaftesbury Memorial in Piccadilly Circus. The highlight of the home is the Arab Hall. It even has decorated tiles with text from the Qur'an. Other highlights include Leighton's art gallery and his stuffed peacock (did I say Aestheticism!). Leighton's Flaming June (1895) is one of the many paintings in the home. The museum just recently opened this summer after a long period of renovation. It was definitely well worth the £1 entry fee I had to pay as a student. The museum website can be found here.

Flaming June

Another sight I saw related to the New Sculpture movement was the Selfridge & Co. department store. The most noticeable feature of this store is the sculpture, The Queen of Time (1928), above the entryway by Gilbert Bayes. Included below are some pictures I took of the sculpture and other decorative elements of the store.

photographs © 2010 Meredith Hale

For more information on New Sculpture:
Edwards, Jason.
Alfred Gilbert's Aestheticism: Gilbert Amongst Whistler, Wilde, Leighton, Pater and Burne-Jones. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2006.
Getsy, David.
Body Doubles: Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004.
Read, Benedict.
Victorian Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

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