Sculpture Victorious. Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901

By Ward-Jackson, Philip | The Sculpture Journal, May 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Sculpture Victorious. Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901


Ward-Jackson, Philip, The Sculpture Journal


Martina Droth, Jason Edwards and Michael Hatt (eds), Sculpture Victorious. Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901 (exh. cat.), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 11 September- 30 November 2014, and Tate Britain, London, 25 February- 25 May 2015. New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2014, 448pp, c. 380 b&w and colour illustrations, £50. ISBN 978-0-300-20803-0.

The vaunting title of this exhibition may have drawn down on it some of the press battering that it received. Overcoming forebodings, and after a brief perusal of the accompanying volume, I went twice and enjoyed it, as did several acquaintances. The curators were as interested, it seemed, in showmanship in the present day as in the period under scrutiny, and furthermore their choice of exhibits had that same attractively heteroclite quality that had characterized the international and colonial exhibitions of the nineteenth century. Now that the dust has settled it seems appropriate to review the volume, which not only served as a catalogue to the two shows in New Haven and London, but represents the critical apparatus behind them, and features quite a few things that were not present in either. The first impression, which further inspection does not entirely dispel, is of an incoherent assemblage of objects, thoughts and opinions. Pursuit of red herrings and littoral drift among the entries, are scarcely held in check by the drogue or drag-anchor of the introductory essay and the groynes of the interspersed thematic essays. It hardly helps that the main essay is the work of a trio, whose individual members are inclined to soar off on improvised cadenzas. So, what hope that such a miscellany would secure us, as the directors claim it does, 'a thorough account of Victorian sculpture'?

As has been pointed out, the chances of this were limited by the almost perverse omission of most of the major figures of the high Victorian period: Weekes, Foley, Munro, Woolner, Lough, MacDowell, Noble, Durham, Theed, W. C. Marshall and others. It seemed to be left to John Gibson and John Bell to represent the main current of 'ideal' sculpture, and, of these two, one was a determined Roman outsider, and the other, a maverick with a side-line in the industrial arts. How to explain this, as the authors do not? Do they suffer in the presence of marble figures that sensory deprivation that modern audiences experience when confronted by black and white films? If so, their aversion is certainly prejudicial to the thoroughness of their account. In the almost complete absence of such things, different lines of development are proposed, which, though they do not tell the full story, do open new avenues of inquiry and, refreshingly perhaps, dispense with some old clichés. This version of the story privileges general social and historical phenomena, particularly colonialism and industrial progress, over such artistic cliques as Pre-Raphaelites and New Sculptors.

First, then, industrial production. The argument here is that, in the case of large amounts of sculpture shown at international exhibitions and exploited commercially, the mode of production was as much the message as any poetic, moral or political content. In addition, in the so-called 'industrial arts' artisanal input combined with mechanical process to create objects whose production values were every bit as interesting as those of the fine art turned out in studios, where division of labour was increasingly in evidence. In this area, a particular emphasis is put on electroplating, pioneered by the Birmingham firm of Elkington and Mason, partly because this was also a process exploited by some of the supposedly more hands-on sculptors associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement at the end of the century. This line of argument does corroborate the directors' claim that Sculpture Victorious has investigated 'the overlooked ground that lies between the classical nude of the 1840s and the so-called New Sculpture'. However, it is only in this one area of process that the continuity is established. …

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

Sculpture Victorious. Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901
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.