The Colour of Sculpture
12 Dec 1996 – 6 Apr 1997
Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3
The Colour of Sculpture presents works in a wide range of materials: marble, metals, precious stones, glass and ivory, and shows how they were 'painted' to effect different tints and patinas.
In the 18th and 19th centuries there was an implicit assumption that sculpture was simply monochrome. Even today, many people assume that they can illustrate books on sculpture with black and white reproductions, seeing sculpture as essentially colourless. This exhibition focuses on reactions to such preconceptions, and is, first and foremost, a spectacular array of colour in its various guises.
The reaction to monochrome sculpture emerged gradually during the 19th century, and was substantially supported by archaeological finds which suggested that Classical sculpture had, itself, originally been coloured.
By the end of the century coloured sculpture was used to explore a prevailing interest in historicism, evoking precedents culled not only from the Classical World, but also from the medieval and the Renaissance periods.
However, this exhibition concentrated more on the French fin-de-siècle and the themes on show echo those of Symbolism more widely. Colour and the contrast engendered by contrasting materials, was ideally suited to scenes of mysticism, eroticism and exoticism. The female muse has rarely been captured so magnificently.
Featuring sculptures by Arnold Bocklin, Camille Claudel, Charles Cordier, Jean-Leon Gerome, John Gibson, Max Kilnger, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, and many others.
The Colour of Sculpture 1840-1910 was selected by Andreas Bluehm of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it was first on show.