18th June to 26th July 2019
Artists by Artists: Sculpted Portraits in the 19th century
Reviews and features
By the 19th century the cult of the artist had been well and truly established, resulting in a great desire by patrons, collectors and fellow artists to record and own representations of creative genius.
Artists were also concerned with preserving the memory of their teachers, or that of towering figures that had a powerful influence over the art of their times. Some of the most striking and evocative images were created by sculptors, either in the form of a memorial, a statuette or a treasured bust, which in some cases could be perceived as the embodiment of the artist himself.
The exhibition presented an over-life size bronze bust of Eugène Delacroix commissioned by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1864. The sculpture was the centrepiece of a banquet held on the first anniversary of Delacroix’s death and attended by many personalities of the French art world. These included Manet, Stevens and Corot who all toasted the portrait bust as if the great artist was there himself.
Another highlight was a beautiful marble portrait relief of John Everett Millais exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854 by Alexander Munro – the practice of making portraits of fellow artists was an important ritual in the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. A visitor to the studio whilst Millais was sitting for this relief exclaimed “All men of genius, unhappily, are not so handsome as Millais was then”.
The exhibition also featured likenesses of Degas, Géricault, Ingres, Victor Hugo and Rodin, encompassing a variety of format and media, from mask to roundel and bronze to plaster.