Monday, December 28, 2015

Achille & Patrocle (2) in other art - ancient

In terms of other art from the past, there is a famous vase, showing Achille caring the wounded Patrocle. The vase is reportedly painted by Sosias (500 AC) and is displayed in Berlin (Germany) at the State Museum.

Below is an interesting piece : a sculpted comb bone, found in Oria around 50 BC, showing Achille pulling Hector's body behind him.  It is located in the National archeology Museum of Tarente.

At the end of the 16th century, the French engraver Etienne Delaune did the drawing below, called 'Les Petits Combats : Fight between Achille & Hector'. It can be seen in Strasbourg (France) at the 'Cabinet des Estampes et Dessins'.

During the 18th century, the French painter Hubert ROBERT did 2 very similar paintings about Alexander the Great standing in front of Achille's tomb. The first one is kept in Versailles, at the Lambinet Museum...

... while this one is located in Paris at the Louvre Museum.

 In 1793, John Flaxman did this drawing of Achille in tears. Paris, National Library.
And at the very beginning of the 19th century, in 1801, Jean Auguste Dominique INGRES did the following two drawings of Achille & Patrocle. Located in the Ingres Museum in Vidauban (France).

And some years later, this estampe was done, showing Cupidon on the left, and the dying Achille on the right, by Jean Baptiste WICAR, Jean Baptiste GUYAR, and Claude Louis MASQUELIER.  Located at the Art & Archeology Museum of Senlis (France).

Below is our last drawing about Achille, done by Henri Regnault around 1850. Located in the Louvres Museum, Paris.

The next post will be about some contemporary art pieces about Achille & Patrocle, in both sculptures and other media.

see also first post about Achille & Patrocle (Dec 14).
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Achille & Patrocle (1) in sculptures - ancient

For a full story of Achille's life and myth, I suggest you read the various sources, mentioned at the end of this post. I will only mention a few stories extracts here.

Achille - detail - Achilleon Corfu (Greece)
In Greek mythology, Patrocle is the very close friend of Achille... This friendship was well known... and often considered of similar intensity as the one between Alexander the Great and Hephaestion.

Achille is said to have been immersed in the Styx river by his mother, holding him by the heel, to make him invulnerable. Still a teenager, he wanted a short but glorious life. Hence his willingness to join his friend and lover Patrocle for the Trojan expedition & war. Both were recruited as soldiers.
After 10 years of fighting, he quit the war area upset on Agamemnon. Learning that his lover Patrocle died, he comes back to fight, but is hit by an arrow on his heel, and died.

The sculpture below shows the young Achille wounded by the heel. It is located in the Villa Reale, Milan (Italy) and was sculpted by Innocenzo Fraccaroli (1805-1882) an Italian sculptor, who won Brera Academy’s 1829 prize for sculpture.

Earlier, when Patrocle died, a tumb was built for him, and it is said he was already waiting for Achille to join him when he would die.  
Achille - Marble sculpture know as the 'Ludovisi Ares' - 4 or 1 BC.

For the Greeks, the 'friendship' between Achille and Patrocle was of another nature. They considered them as lovers. And for them, this is fully demonstrated when seeing the deep sorrow expressed by Achille when Patrocle died. And his willingness of revenge.
The author Eschyle describes Achille mourning the death of his friend,  celebrating the body of Patrocle, missing their past kisses...  Platon, in his 'Banquet', through Phedre, says that Achille was cuter than Patrocle, and younger.
The Dying Achilles - 1854 Marble by Filippo Albacini (1777-1858). Accademia Nazionale di San Luca (Italy)
Many sculptures have been made to celebrate these heroes, and other art pieces as well, as we will see in other posts. Some sculptures are located in the Achilleion in Corfu (Greece), a palace built in 1890 by the emperess Elisabeth from Austria & Hungary  (also known as 'Sissi'), to honor Achille. See below.

Another Achilles sculpture, still in the gardens of the Achilleion in Corfu.  The Greek word is his name : ΑΧΙΛΛΕΥΣ or Achilles.
Below is the Pasquino group, where it is possibly Menelas holding Patrocle body. It is a roman copy from a greek original, located in the Loggia dei Lanzi, in Florence, Italy.

Below is a representation of Achille by Lycomedes, a bas-relief sculpted for a Athenian sarcophagius made around 240 AC. and located in the Louvre museum, Paris.

The Achille called 'Ares Borguese' (below) is dated 4 AC but there are several copies.
 Below is a marble copy made during 1 AC. located in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The one below is a copy made just after 1900, located in Chantilly (France) at Conde Museum.

Achille wounded by the heel also inspired the French sculptor Charles-Alphonse Achille Gumery, who made this one in 1850. This sculptor got the 'Prix de Rome', the 'Legion d'Honneur'. He is buried in the Montmartre cemetery in Paris.

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French government Culture department website

The culture concept website

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dying gladiator (3) The Wounded warrior by Pierre-Etienne Monnot

In the serie of sculptures representing dying gladiators, today is the 'Wounded Warrior, sculpted by the French sculptor Pierre-Etienne Monnot, and located in the Capitolini Museum in Rome.

This sculptor, although born in France (1657) spent all his life in Rome from the age of 10 until his death (in 1733).
He got his first sculpture lessons from his father who sculpted wood, then by Jean Dubois, and may have worked a little in Paris for some main sculptors on some projects launched by the King Louis XIV.
Once in Rome, he joined quickly a circle of French sculptors, who gradually would get an excellent reputation during the first part of the 18 century, and got many commissions, not only for Italian monuments & churches, but also for English aristocrats, for whom he sculpted tombs monuments, allegorical figures for chapels, and mythological pieces.
He also went to Kassel in 1714, where he sculpted several statues, busts and a masterpiece consisting of colored marble bas-reliefs in the Orangerie at the Karlsaue. 
Cupidon & Narcissus - Kassel
Apollo & Marsyas - Kassel
Regarding today's sculpture, the Wounded Warrior, the origin of it is a restoration. Many sculptors indeed were asked to restore statues or damaged antiquities. Monnot received a marble torso which used to be a 'Discobolus', a copy made from the original Myron sculpture.

But Monnot transformed that figure (a liberty used at the Baroque period) to make it as the Wounded Warrior, ''who supports himself on his arm as he sinks to the ground''.
It is the Pope Clement XII who offered that sculpture to the Capitoline Museum.

(This sculpture was seen last week in Rome by one of our regular reader from Paris, P., who kindly sent me a picture, together with a funny anecdote : the guide apparently did not liked when he tried to go at the back of the statue, to admire the other side, so here are 2 more pictures to help him!).

Together with this sculpture, today's bonus is the second marble sculpture at same Museum, showing one of the Niobide, also 'appreciated' by our reader!

Niobide - Capitoline Museum - Roma (photo P. from Paris)

Capitolini Museum

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Antonio Canova (1) and his Perseus

We have previously covered in some detail another Perseus, the magnificent sculpture in bronze from Benvenuto Cellini, achieved in 1554. Today, lets have a look at the marble version executed 250 years later, by the famous sculptor Canova, and also a glimpse at Canova's life.

Canova got a rich heritage, in the sense that he was born in a family (his father, his grand father) of stone carvers. So he learned to carve marble already as a kid. Soon he is sent as apprentice by the Italian sculptor Giuseppe Bernardi Torretti, and later on he will study in Venice (Academia di Belle Arti). In Venice he got several awards, became famous among the modern sculptors, but still got lots of inspiration from Greek & Roman mythology.
He is known to express lots of sensitivity in his marble sculptures, and was able to get a highly polished texture on his marbles, and to express the softness of the body. He became the perfect example of what was later called the neoclassicism.

In 1779, he opened his own studio, and soon got his first large marble commission : a statue of Icarus and Daedalus (more details in a future post). Being very generous, he helped a lot of young artists in the need. Canova was also a painter.
Self portrait 1792
He then travelled to Rome, where he studied in depth the Michelangelo numerous works. It is in Rome that he got the commission for Theseus and the Minotaur (more details in a future post).
It is said that ''by 1800, Canova was the most celebrated artist in Europe.''

What we would call today as 'marketing' was a regular and natural habit from Canova, indeed he constantly aimed at establish his reputation and make his work well known by publishing drawings (engravings) of his works.

When he died, in 1822, aged 65, his heart was kept in a monument he created himself, in Venice, inside the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari Basilica. His body though was buried in his birthplace, Possagno, in the Canoviano temple, where his brother body lays as well.
And it is said that his right hand is preserved in a vase, at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. The ceremony was reportedly grandiose, to be compared with the one given by Firenze city at Michelangelo's death in 1564. 
Photo Matthew Clemente

The original sculpture is located in the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Sometimes called Perseus Triumphant, sometimes called Perseus with the Head of Medusa. The statue was acquired by Pope Pius VII. An exact copy, in marble as well, was purchased in 1804 from Canova by the Polish Countess Valeria Tarnowska. That copy is located now in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum. Pictures below.

Canova apparently wanted to constantly surpass the classical statues.
He did not teach students or apprentices, but instead had a lot of workers who would prepare the rough statue he wanted to sculpt, using the '3 points machine' to copy a plaster model, and leaving just enough marble so that Canova could concentrate on the surface. For which he was famous.

It is also said that some people were reading to him pieces of literature and historic texts while he was sculpting.
After the sculpting, he spent lots of time, like weeks or more, sanding it, using a special stones,  like 'pumice' and 'tripoli'. And for the nude parts of the skin, he would use a special patina to make the tone lighter.
Sources :

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dying Gladiator (2) by Michel Mosnier

In the serie of sculptures representing gladiators, lets have a look at the other French sculptor, Michel Monier, or Mosnier, who, in 1681, did this large marble sculpture called "Le Gladiateur Mourant" or "The Dying Gladiator".

Photo blog Versailles
Michel Monier is a French sculptor, born in Blois,  in the Loire Valley famous for all French castles. His birthdate is unknown. He died in Paris on Chritsmas 1686 (December 24).

Photo Labaronne
Monier was the official sculptor for the French King, and worked the last 4 years of his life in Versailles, from 1682, the same year that Louis XIV established Versailles as the King official residency, which will last a little more than 100 years, until 1789, with Louis XV, followed by Louis XVI.

Several copies have been made, some can be seen in England, like below, at the Rousham House & Garden, Oxfordshire.

And here, a copy in bronze, at the Iford Manor, Wilshire.

The dying gladiator sculpture was reproduced (wood engraving) in 1833 on the Penny Magazine, an ''illustrated British magazine aimed at the working class, published every Saturday from 31 March 1832 to 31 October 1845. Charles Knight created it for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, in response to Chamber's Edinburgh Journal, which started two months earlier. It was sold for a penny and illustrated with wood-engravings"".

Sources :
Le superbe blog spécialisé en photos de Versailles : voir ce blog
This beautiful engraving was made in 1723 by Simon Thomassin in Paris. It is from his work Recuel des Statue, Groupes, Fontaines, Termes, Vases et Autres Mangifique Ornamens du Chateau et Parc de Versailles, which shows the magnificent statues, fountains and ornaments at the Palace of Versaille. King Louis XIV commissioned this work and Thomassin held the title Graveur du Roy (Engraver of the King).
This antique print was made by copper plate engraving. The paper is hand-made and chain-linked (if you hold the paper up to a strong light you can see it was made by laying the paper pulp onto a lattice of chains).
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Le gladiateur mourant
This beautiful engraving was made in 1723 by Simon Thomassin in Paris. It is from his work Recuel des Statue, Groupes, Fontaines, Termes, Vases et Autres Mangifique Ornamens du Chateau et Parc de Versailles, which shows the magnificent statues, fountains and ornaments at the Palace of Versaille. King Louis XIV commissioned this work and Thomassin held the title Graveur du Roy (Engraver of the King).
This antique print was made by copper plate engraving. The paper is hand-made and chain-linked (if you hold the paper up to a strong light you can see it was made by laying the paper pulp onto a lattice of chains).
- See more at: