Introduction: Displaying Victorian Sculpture

By Hatt, Michael; Edwards, Jason | The Sculpture Journal, December 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Introduction: Displaying Victorian Sculpture


Hatt, Michael, Edwards, Jason, The Sculpture Journal


Photographed in his studio in 1883, William Calder Marshall, one of the most successful sculptors in Victorian Britain, sits among many of his works. These include a commemorative monument, the seated figure of Samuel Crompton (1862), dominating the scene; historical genre pieces, such as The Venerable Bede Translating the Gospel of St John (1869) on the trestle to Crompton's right; ideal works, like the two nudes of The Tali Players (1873) in the left foreground; and more besides. Together, these works exemplify the florescence of sculpture in nineteenth-century Britain: the increasing opportunities for sculptors afforded by national, civic and private patronage, and by a maturing market, which generated a proliferation of kinds of sculptural object.

The growth of patrons, markets and audiences also required and created new forms of display, both in public and private. Calder Marshall's most famous work, Sabrina, an ideal nude representing the water nymph from Milton's Comus, was, conventionally enough, first exhibited in plaster at the Royal Academy in 1847. In a range of sizes and materials, Sabrina then found her way into many new display forums, including a sequence of major exhibitions, from the Great Exhibition of 1851, through the Dublin International Exhibition and New York Crystal Palace, both in 1853, and the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857, to the London International Exhibition in 1862; as part of the survey of sculptural history presented at the Sydenham Crystal Palace from 1854; as one of the most popular Parian ware statuettes, distributed by the Art Union and sold by Copeland in its showrooms; in educational entertainments in London, including the Regent's Park Colosseum and the Royal Panopticon in Leicester Square; and at a conversazione, or cultural salon, held at St Bartholomew's Hospital in June 1858. Sabrina also benefited from the increase in international markets, with zinc copies made by several manufacturers in the USA and a bronze version commissioned for Amherst College in Massachusetts (now on Roosevelt Island).

What is striking here is not simply that the statue was seen by more people in more places, but that it was encountered in new ways: as part of the Panopticon's didactic spectacle, combining wonder, science and the aesthetic; alongside scholarly demonstrations of microscopy and telegraphy at the conversazione; on a mantelpiece in the parlour of a suburban villa. As the photograph of Calder Marshall reminds us, more and more images of sculpture circulated, as photographs, stereographs, postcards, prints and illustrations in the periodical press. These too constitute a particularly modern form of display.

It is surprising that, in light of this extraordinary florescence, Victorian sculpture has been more often discussed in terms of decline. Twentiethcentury taste has tended to trump nineteenth-century history. Even in the field of Victorian studies, which has provided such a rich exploration of the British nineteenth-century world in recent decades, sculpture has been largely overlooked, as if it were a marginal cultural form. Happily, more and more research is being undertaken by scholars in the academy, museums and research centres; research which reveals the ubiquity of sculpture and its importance in nineteenth-century Britain and its empire. As part of this collective bid to return sculpture to centre stage in discussion of Victorian Britain, we led Displaying Victorian Sculpture, a project that ran from autumn 2010 to autumn 2013 at the universities of Warwick and York. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and in partnership with the Yale Center for British Art, the project explored the diverse ways in which sculpture was shown and encountered in nineteenth-century Britain. Displaying Victorian Sculpture ran alongside our research for Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901, the first synoptic exhibition of Victorian sculpture ever mounted. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Introduction: Displaying Victorian Sculpture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.