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SCULPTURE AND ITS REPRODUCTIONS Edited by Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranfft
SCULPTURE AND ITS REPRODUCTIONS Edited by Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranfft

Edited by

Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranfft


Critical Views

In the same series

The New Museology edited by Peter Vergo

Renaissance Bodies edited by Luey Gent and Nigel Llewellyn

Modernism in Design edited by Paul Greenhalgh

Interpreting Contemporary Art edited by Stephen Bann and William Allen

The Portrait in Photography edited by Graham Clarke

Utopias and the Millennium edited by Krishan Kumar and Stephen Bann

The Cultures of Collecting edited by John EIsner and Roger Cardinal

Boundaries in China edited by John Hay

Frankenstein, Creation and Monstrosity edited by Stephen Bann

A New Philosophy of History edited by Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner

Parisian Fields edited by Miehael Sheringham




Edited by Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranfft



Published by Reaktion Books Ltd II Rathbone Place

London WIP IDE, UK

First published 1997

Copyright © Reaktion Books Ltd, 1997

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publishers.

Designed by Humphrey Stone Jacket and cover designed by Ron Costley Photoset by Wilmaset, Wirral, Merseyside Printed and bound in Great Britain by BiddIes, Guildford.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data:

Sculpture and its reproductions. (Critical views) L Sculpture 2. Sculpture Reproduction I. Ranfft, Erich 11. Hughes, Anthony

(Critical views) L Sculpture 2. Sculpture Reproduction I. Ranfft, Erich 11. Hughes, Anthony 73° ISBN 18


ISBN 18 6189002 8











Photographic Acknowledgements

Notes on Editors and Contributors




Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranfft


Roman Sculptural Reproductions or Polykleitos: The Sequel

Miranda Marvin


Authority, Authenticity and Aura: WaIter Benjamin and the Case of Michelangelo Anthony H ughes


Art for the Masses: Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries Marjorie Trusted


The Ivory Multiplied: Small-scale Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century Malcolm Baker

6 I

Naked Authority? Reproducing Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon Martin Postle


Craft, Commerce and the Contradictions of Anti-capitalism:

Reproducing the Applied Art of Jean Baffler Neil McWilliam 100

Reproduced Sculpture of German Expressionism:

Living Objects, Theatrics of Display and Practical Options

Erich Ranfft


Truth to Material: Bronze, on the Reproducibility of Truth

Alexandra Parigoris


Venus a Go Go, To Go Edward Allington





Select Bibliography


Photographic Acknowledgements

The editors and publishers wish to express their thanks to the following sources of illustrative material and/or permission to reproduce it (excluding those named in the captions, and the individual essayists, who supplied all remaining uncredited material):

© Edward Allington and the Lisson Gallery, London: pp. 153, 167; © 1997 ARS, New York/ADAGP, Paris: pp. 142, 145, IS0; © Alan Bowness/Hepworth Estate (photography): p. 139; Michael Brandon-Jones: p. 107; Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA (Edmee Busch Greenough Fund): p. 120; The Art Institutue of Chicago (gift of Margaret Fisher in memory of her parents, Mr and Mrs Waiter Fisher): p. 137; Don Hall (courtesy the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Canada) (photography); © Bertrand Lavier: p. 159; Robert Hashimoto (photography): p. 137; Friedrich Hewicker: p. 124; Bill Jacobson Studio (photography): pp. 153, 167; Michael Le Marchant (Bruton Gallery): p. 134; G.V. Leftwich: pp. 12 (top right), 16; © Les Levine (photography): p. 134; Courtauld Institute of Art, London: p. 85; Royal Academy of Arts, London:

p. 88; © The Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (photography): pp. 49, 58, 70, 74, 75; Paul Mellon Centre: pp. 82, 87, 96, 97; Museum of Modern Art, New York (acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest; photo: © 1997 MoMA, NYC): p. 144; Photo: Alexandra Parigoris: p. 145; The Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena (photography): p. 150; and Wellesley College Museum, Jewett Arts Centre, Wellesley (gift of Miss Hannah Parker Kimball, M. Day Kimball Memorial): p. 12 (bottom).

Notes on Editors and Contributors

EDWARD ALLINGTON is a sculptor based in London. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries including the Museum Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp; the Tate Gallery, London; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. He has also shown in public projects including Das Kunstprojekt Heizkraftwerk, Romerbriicken, Saarbriick- en (1990) and Quadratura in Cambridge (1995). He was Gregory Fellow in Sculpture at the University of Leeds, He currently teaches at the Slade School of Art and is Research at the Manchester Metropolitan University, who are publishing a collection of his essays, A Method for Sorting Cows (forthcoming).

MALCOLM BAKER is Deputy Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has written widely on eighteenth-century sculpture and visual culture in many journals. He has co-written (with Anthony Radcliffe and

Michael Maek-Gerard) Renaissance and Later Sculpture in the Thyssen- Bornemisza Collection (1991) and (with David Bindman) Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-Century Monument: Sculpture as Theatre (1996), which was

awarded the 1996 Mitchell Prize for the History of Art. He is currently writing a book on Roubiliac and the roles of sculptural portraiture in eighteenth-century England.

ANTHONY HUGHES is Lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Leeds. He has published extensively on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art in

Art History, The Burlington Magazine, The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes and The Oxford Art Journal, and has written a book on

Michelangelo. He is currently writing a book on the theory of sculpture from the fifteenth century to the present day.

MIRANDA MARVIN is Professor of Art and of Greek and Latin at Wellesley College. She was educated at Bryn Mawr College, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and Harvard University. She has excavated at Israel and Idalion, Cyprus, and publishes on Roman sculpture.

NEIL McWILLIAM is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art in the School of World Art and Museology, University of East Anglia. He has published widely on nineteenth-century French visual culture, including A Bibliography of Salon



Criticism in Paris from the July Monarchy to the Second Republic 1831-1850 (1991) and Dreams of Happiness (1993). He is completing a study of Jean Baffler and nationalist culture in the Third Republic.

ALEXANDRA PARIGORIS, formerly Henry Moore Lecturer in the History of Sculpture Studies at the University of York, recently completed a PhD on Constantin Brancusi for the Courtauld Institute in London. She has published on Brancusi, Pablo Picasso and ]ulio Gonzalez. Currently based in Chicago, she is preparing a critical edition of Andd: Salmon's La jeune sculpture franr:aise.

of Andd: Salmon's La jeune sculpture franr:aise. MARTIN POSTLE is Associate Professor of Art History and

MARTIN POSTLE is Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the London Centre, University of Delaware. His publications include (with Ilaria Bignamini) The Artist's Model: It's Role in British Art from Lely to Etty (London and Nottingham, 1991) and Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures (Cambridge, 1995).

ERICH RANFFT is former visiting Henry Moore Scholar in Sculpture Studies at the University of Leeds. He has published essays in Expressionism Reassessed (1993), Visions of the Neue Frau (1995) and The Dictionary of Women Artists (London and Chicago, 1997). He has been researching modern German arts and cultures and the practices of women sculptors, and has a forthcoming PhD on Expressionist sculpture from the Courtauld Institute in London.

MAR]ORIE TRUSTED is Deputy Curator in the Sculpture Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She has written a number of articles and books on sculpture; her catalogue of Spanish sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum was published in 1996.



Often, when the discussion of art turns to reproduction, it seems nearly exclusively bound by two dimensions. To take only the best-known examples, the effects of the hand-made print have been explored in

William lvin's Prints

Benjamin's essay on 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' (invoked by more than one contributor to this book) has become the single most influential piece of writing on the subject of reproductive photography. are no corresponding general studies dealing with sculpture, although, as all practitioners, curators and art historians know, facilities for reproducing three-dimensional objects predate by several millennia any ability to make pictures that were 'exactly repeatable' (to quote part of lvins' useful formula). Technologies associated with casting in clay and metal have been a traditional resource for sculptors for so long that their significance has gone largely un- remarked. By contrast, the relatively abrupt appearance of the first woodblock images during the early decades of the fifteenth century in Europe and, still more dramatically, the well-documented invention of photography in the nineteenth, assume obvious significance, if only because they mark the kind of sudden discontinuity that seems to cry out for historical interpretation. There is no doubt that exploitation of these inventions has, as lvins argued, transformed the dissemination of information (and misinforma- tion) , producing profound repercussions for the perception of art. However, the very continuity of sculptural practice should make us wary of reducing accounts of change to the of technological innovation alone. Very often, reproduction becomes an especially significant issue because of transformations in the cultural and social fabric, as the essays in this book clearly demonstrate. Some examples might illustrate the point more graphically. The first concerns the authority of antique sculpture. From the




while WaIter



Renaissance onwards, ancient sculptural fragments were collected, restored and given currency by means of many reproductive processes. Martin PostIe's account of the debates concerning the role played by this exemplary art in English eighteenth-century practice marks a change in emphasis from a period in which it was routinely assumed that all ancient fragments were 'authentic' to the beginning of an age of fine discrimination between what was properly Greek and what was a Roman copy. Here the question of reproduction became crucial, but the forms of a later archaeological scholarship based on the systematic interrogation of Roman sculpture for what it could tell us about lost Greek prototypes was not stimulated by any technological change, but was rather symptomatic of an ideological shift observable in many types of historical writing and theory from Voltaire to Edward Gibbon. Its most influential voice in the field of the visual arts was that of Johann Winckelmann, whose History of Ancient Art provided at once a systematic method for the writing of connoisseurial history and a set of values associated with it. Though Winckelmann's values were not as coherent as they may at first have seemed and his scholarship was certainly contested, most memorably by Gotthold Lessing, the model he constructed in principle provided the basis for the vast library of studies that imaginatively sought to reconstruct Greek originals from a crowd of Roman copies. It may be claimed that the subsequent invention of photography facilitated this archaeological project, but it is beyond doubt that the new technology was harnessed to an enterprise already under way by the time that photographs became a standard adjunct to scholarly argument. In such scholarship, the Roman reproduction was simultaneously exalted and devalued as a glass in which we may catch a glimpse of vanished glory - more or less darkly according to the evaluation of the copy's quality. As Edward Allington's contribution to this book sardonically points out, modern commercial reproduction may multiply the ironies attached to the ambivalent status of the copy, that odd memorial to loss. It is often the case that in the present-day museum facsimile the supposedly 'real' object of veneration exists only as a phantom conjured up by means of a substitute for a substitute. The facsimile's careful fakery of surface texture simulates the appearance of the copy, the cultural value of which is held to reside not in any intrinsic merit but in the information it supposedly offers about a work now irretrievably lost. Within this hall of mirrors, it is a further irony that it is precisely this informational value that can never be substantiated.

this hall of mirrors, it is a further irony that it is precisely this informational value



As Postle notes, rediscovery of works that are indubitably Greek, from the sculptures of the Parthenon to the Riace Bronzes, fostered the view of Roman figural sculpture as an industry in large part given over to the manufacture of reproductions. Miranda Marvin's essay forcefully argues, however, that the production of Roman sculpture was infinitely more nuanced than such studies have suggested, and the manufacture of facsimiles of Greek masterworks was merely one device in the repertory of craftsmen who also employed reproductive practices to produce variants and pastiches. It is the relatively modern preoccupation with authenticity and genius that has caused a great deal of Roman material to be misconstrued. Like much art at any time, Roman sculpture may have thrived on subtle adjustments and qualifications to a range of conventional types: the pleasures it offered a viewer must have been fairly refined and totally at odds with an aesthetic that prized originality above everything else. Twentieth-century anxieties concerning artistic integrity and commer- cial exploitation provide us with a second example of the importance of cultural ambience, this time giving a faintly sensational spin to practices hitherto regarded as unremarkable. The making and marketing of posthumous Rodins (in marble and in bronze) has occasioned scandal and caused quarrels to break out between normally well-behaved writers on art (for example, the dispute between Albert Elsen and Rosalind Krauss on which Alexandra Parigoris comments in her essay). Similar worries have arisen in connection with unauthorized bronzes made from waxes by Edgar Degas, the casting of metal sculptures by Umberto Boccioni, ]ulio Gonzalez, Constantin Brancusi and many others. Informing these debates have been issues of authority and artistic control that have recently issued in the drafting of a code of practice concerning the production of posthumous works. Parigoris' essay demonstrates just how deeply debates on these matters have been affected by specifically Modernist aesthetic preferences privileging concepts such as 'truth to materials' and form over other considerations, and hardly at all by the technologies involved, which in most cases would have been familiar in principle to the ancient Greeks. Erich Ranfft's discussion of Expressionist sculpture in Germany before and after the First World War reveals the extent to which a lingering attachment to the values implied by the doctrine of 'truth to materials' has distorted the writing of history to give a false sense of the priorities and practices that actually prevailed in artists' studios during this period. Much discussion on Modernism has also tended to pass over in silence


the role reproductive techniques have played in art since the late nineteenth century. In part this relative neglect has been an expression of embarrassment with processes that seem too obviously commercial to receive open admittance among writers on art, especially during periods and in regions in which the promotion of a proper standard of craft practice was regarded as essential for sculpture if authorial control was

to be maintained. Oddly, these often authoritarian and elitist ideals went

hand in hand with populist ideologies, creating some curious paradoxes. One is studied in Neil McWilliam's essay on the production of Jean Baffier's ornamental tableware. Baffler, committed to a medievalizing artisanal ideal, undertook an enterprise that could only be realized by exploiting the means of industrial reproduction. McWilliam's essay also explores the fuzzy borderline between 'sculpture' and the 'applied' arts where the production of multiples is the norm rather than the exception. Malcom Baker admirably outlines the importance of Kleinplastik and the way in which a sculptural motif could be comfortably and almost seamlessly transmitted from the exclusivity of the collector's cabinet to, say, Josiah Wedgwood's factory. Indeed, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century statuary must often have been more familiar in the form of porcelain, biscuit or Parian ware than it was in monumental marble or bronze. By the turn of the twentieth century, when sale of reduced replicas of salon pieces or favourite monuments was commonplace, it might have been difficult to tell precisely by what criteria a sculpture and a table ornament were to be distinguished from one another. It is the only half-acknowledged commercial exploitation of sculpture that sharpens the sense of ironic absurdity courted by Marcel Duchamp's readymades. His 'originals' - urinal, bicycle wheel, snow shovel and bottle rack - were not only themselves instances of industrially manufactured multiples, but also, as Allington reminds us, have subsequently been 'reproduced' in authorized versions whose status in relation to the parental object is parodically uncertain. These are cases in which reproduction has been made visible within

the relatively closed worlds of scholarship and art. In larger contexts, the reproduction of imagery has been an important resource the very ubiquity of which has caused it to seem unremarkable. Repetition and dissemination of a motif or figure have constituted one of the simplest and most effective means of establishing and reinforcing political or religious authority. The image of a Roman emperor, whether depicted on

a coin or in the form of a cult statue, became an inescapable sign of

power, though in the twentieth century there is perhaps no need to search



out historical prototypes for a practice familiar to the recent history of Germany and Eastern Europe. In many cultures, replication of religious cult imagery has often been a duty of sculptors and, although this is often associated with Asian practice, it has in fact been firmly embedded within the Catholic tradition of Western Europe for centuries. Here, as Anthony Hughes and Marjorie Trusted point out, replication and variation of a cult work may entail the assumption that the copy transmits something of the talismanic efficacy of the original. Trusted's discussion goes further, rightly questioning whether it is proper to assume the existence of an 'original' at all in the case of some seventeenth-century Spanish reliefs, which have probably been made from a mould in order to market a popular type of devotional image more effectively. In this instance, the conventional art-historical discrimination between authentic work and (it is usually assumed) second- or even third-rate copy may be not merely beside the point but positively misleading. Even when identifiable 'originals' exist, reproductive strategies are rarely merely passive but may have a powerful role in providing a frame within which the primary objects are seen. Baker argues that variation and reproduction of sculpture have had important repercussions for the transmission of reputation and the establishment of an oeuvre. Francis van Bossuit, a figure considered (if at all) today as 'minor', received the signal recognition of having what must have been one of the first illustrated monographs dedicated to him. Baker's argument subtly reveals how the engravings presented these small ivories anew as works of monumental grandeur, through the kind of dramatic devices which photography has now made commonplace. As editors, we are convinced that the replication of sculptural imagery has played a fundamental rather than a marginal role in the history of Western art. Each of the essays brought together here reveals a different aspect of the way in which the multiplication, placement and displacement of that imagery affects a variety of issues that, when analysed, importantly alter our conception of how sculptures function. The variety of approach from one contributor to another reveals how acknowledgement of replication, far from diminishing the interest objects hold for us, as we might perhaps fear, enriches their fascination. We have certainly benefited from the insights our contributors have offered. Our thanks go to them and to others who have supported us before and during the period in which the book was being produced. They include Ben Read and Adrian Rifkin at the University of Leeds and Penelope Curtis of the Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture,



who convened a one-day conference at the Centre on this theme in December 1994. Finally we would like to record our gratitude to Ben Dhaliwal who organized an exhibition on the theme of reproduction and sculpture to coincide with that event.


Roman Sculptural Reproductions or Polykleitos: The Sequel


In the collection of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen is a nearly life-size Roman marble statue of a youth in the style of the fifth- century BC Greek sculptor Polykleitos (p. 8). I He is identified as a 'diskophoros', or 'discus-holder'. His left hand has been restored to hold something that looks suspiciously like a hand-grenade, but, less ana- chronistically, seems likely to be a pomegranate (after which, after all, the 'grenade' was named), or a misunderstood aryballos. If he held something in his right hand, it is lost. The label that identifies the work as a discus-holder seems, therefore, eccentric. According to the logic that has until recently governed the identification of works of classical sculpture, however, it is perfectly reasonable, indeed correct. The Ny Carlsberg is a major museum with a long tradition of scholarly curators; its labels reflect the communis opinio of scholarly thinking. 2 In the case of the 'discus-holder' the label reads in its entirety

(translated from the Danish): 'OISKOPHOROS/ROMAN/COPY AFTER

POLYKLEITOS/STH CENTURY BC'. The work is identified, in other words, not as a work of art but as a reproduction of one. A long-standing scholarly consensus considers it to be a copy of a lost bronze by Polykleitos that depicted a victorious athlete holding a discus. That the Roman work holds no discus need not be explained on the label since its absence says nothing about the original, and only the original matters. The importance of the Copenhagen marble lies in what it can tell us about Greek sculpture, not about Roman. The only date on the label is the date of the sculptor of the presumed original; the only artist's name is his as well. Who made the Roman replica, when, where and for what purpose are not questions that have seemed important to ask. Recently, however, the consensus about this work and others like it has begun to break down. The Copenhagen youth now seems more likely to be a Roman creation than a copy of a Greek bronze and worthy of a label describing what the visitor sees, not just its imagined original.



8 MIRANDA MAR VIN Figure in the manner of Polykleiros, second century AD, marble . Ny

Figure in the manner of Polykleiros, second century AD, marble. Ny Carlsberg Glyprotek, Copenhagen.

Much Roman sculpture is Greek in style and subject, and most of these Greek-seeming works have been assumed for at least a century to be copies of lost works by Greek artists . Some, like the Copenhagen Diskophoros (above), now appear to be Roman originals, and even those that are reproductions are today not believed to be mechanical ones. The theory that they were made with a pointing machine, similar to the one invented in the eighteenth century for making mechanically exact copies, has been discredited. 3 Roman replicas were works of judgement and skill, not machine-made repetition. Many were signed conspicuously with their maker's name, not the name of either the work or the artist replicated." The pride of the carver was shared by the purchaser who displayed the signed work for visitors to admire. s The anonymous Carrara craftsmen who today execute marbles that will be signed by the artists who modelled the bozzetti are not a modern equivalent to Roman marble-workers. Two anoma lies must be admitted before discussing Roman sculpture and its sources. The first is that the major centre of marble production in the Roman empire was the eastern Mediterranean. The marble-carvers of Greece and Asia Minor never ceded dominance to their competitors in Italy, and in their workshops the language spoken was Greek. They are considered to be Roman artists in that they and all their patrons were

Roman Sculptural Reproductions


subjects of the Roman government and products of its multicultural empire. In modern terms, however, few had ethnic roots in the city of Rome. The second anomaly is the ugly reality that all the works of Polykleitos are lost. If one of the surviving Greek bronzes in the museums of Athens, Reggio di Calabria or Malibu is his, we do not recognize it. If any existing Roman marble in Polykleitan style is a perfect copy of one of his works, we do not recognize that either. There is no known original left with which to compare existing replicas. The argument is not about proofs but about more or less persuasive hypotheses. The hypothesis adopted on the Copenhagen label, that the work is a copy, is simply less persuasive today than it used to be. The view of Roman sculpture reflected on the Copenhagen label is usually said to have originated in the circle of Winckelmann in the eighteenth century.6 As fully developed in German universities in the nineteenth century, it holds that Roman sculpture can be divided into two sharply distinct categories: historical and 'ideal'. Historical sculpture depicts historical persons and events? Public and private portraiture and the narrative reliefs that ornamented arches, columns and buildings throughout the Empire are its chief exponents. Historical sculpture is thought of as the place where Roman sculptors demonstrated originality and creativity, where they made significant contributions to the history of Western art. Roman ideal sculpture, on the other hand (which takes its name from the German Idealplastik) , is that which depicts deities, figures from myth, personifications, allegorical figures - creatures of another world, not ours. It includes everything from cult statues to lamp-stands, from fountain figures to wall plaques. The subject, not the function, of the work defines the genre. One of its characteristics is serial production. Very few works in this genre are unique. Most are known in multiples and belong to what is known as a replica series: a set composed of works that may differ in material, size, quality and iconographic minutiae, but that visibly relate to a common prototype. The prototypes of most Roman replica series have been thought to be lost works by Classical or Hellenistic Greek artists. The Romans are thought to have developed a taste for Greek sculpture from admiring the hundreds of ancient statues brought home as booty by their victorious armies, and to have come to prefer copies of these to originals by their own artists. The copies produced ranged from exact replicas to free variations, but all derived from Greek originals. 8 Since Roman literature constantly proclaims the glory of ancient Greek artists,

all derived from Greek originals. 8 Since Roman literature constantly proclaims the glory of ancient Greek



it seemed only reasonable to believe that most Roman patrons would prefer copies of acknowledged ancient masterpieces to inferior modern creations. As Franz Wickhoff put it at the turn of the century:

was to copy

famous Greek statues in marble

impelling the lover of art who was no longer satisfied with contemporary

The exhaustion of the imagination, by

The principal occupation of every Greek sculptor in Rome

creations to seek older works of art, favoured this extensive copying. 9

John Boardman at the end of the twentieth century describes the production of Roman ideal sculpture thus:

For those who preferred masterpieces, even in copies, a copying industry

soon emerged the result was the legion of marble copies

major source for our study of lost originals by famous artists

course, always open to the copyist to introduce variants or create pastiches but obviously no new major art form developed from these classicizing works. IQ

which serve as a It was, of

Boardman's more nuanced but still dismissive statement reflects twentieth-century views. He still believes the Roman replicas' only value lies in what they can tell us about lost Greek works, but his list of copies of ancient masterpieces is substantially smaller than the list imagined by Wickhoff and his contemporaries. Since the 1970S whole classes of ideal works once thought to be copies of classical statuary have been reinterpreted on formal grounds as classicizing or 'classicistic' creations, conscious reformations of classical prototypes by Roman artists. II Some, for example, have a strong homoerotic and pederastic content - 'sexy boys' Elizabeth Bartman calls them. I2. The bronze known as the Idolino in Florence, for example, was considered by Adolf Furtwangler in the 1890S to be an original of the fifth century. Its languorous elegance and youthful androgyny, however, betray its Roman origin and relate it unmistakably to similar figures of beautiful boys used to hold oil lamps to light Roman dining rooms. I3 Many more works have been recognized as Roman creations, and the category of literal copies from Greek masterpieces has shrunk dramatically.I4 This is not to say, of course, that they did not exist. Both literary and physical evidence demonstrates that the Romans made and displayed copies of many Greek works. Casts were taken from them and replicas made. In one instance, an overcast torso in the Metropolitan Museum in New York retains traces of the repairs made to the original from which it

was taken. I5 At Baiae fragments of actual plaster casts have been

When Roman patrons wanted exact copies, Roman artists could produce them.

of actual plaster casts have been When Roman patrons wanted exact copies, Roman artists could produce

found. I6

Roman Sculptural Reproductions


Roman Sculptural Reproductions 11 'ldolino', anonymous Roman artist, first century 8c / AD, brom . e.

'ldolino', anonymous Roman artist, first century 8c / AD, brom.e. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

The hypothesis being challenged is that such copies were the normal preference of most purchasers of ideal sculpture. Thave argued elsewhere that such a view imputes to the Romans a post-Enlightenment notion of genius and a familiarity with famous works of art made possible only by modern means of exact reproduction (today, of course, extending beyond the still camera to virtual reality in three dimensions). X7 The Romans had neither the ideology of individualism nor the technologies of reproduction that create the modern taste for replicas of famous works. Moreover, they had no academic discipline of art history or professional schools for artists, no encyclopaedic museums and only a rudimentary tourism industry. The art patron of ancient Rome had little in common with his modern successors who pile into tour buses in order to see the canonical works whose appearance they already know from reproductions, and purchase other reproductions on the spot to take home for the mantelpiece. Tn discussing Roman sculpture the burden of proof should shift from

on the spot to take home for the mantelpiece. Tn discussing Roman sculpture the burden of



I2 MIRANDA MARVIN (top left) Doryphoros, in the manner of Polykleitos, first century BC, marble. Minneapolis
I2 MIRANDA MARVIN (top left) Doryphoros, in the manner of Polykleitos, first century BC, marble. Minneapolis
I2 MIRANDA MARVIN (top left) Doryphoros, in the manner of Polykleitos, first century BC, marble. Minneapolis

(top left) Doryphoros, in the manner of Polykleitos, first century BC, marble. Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

(top right) Diadoumenos , in the manner of Polykleitos, first century BC, marble . National Archaeological Museum, Athens.

(above) Figure in the manner of Polykleitos, first century AD ('), marble. Wellesley College Museum (jcwett Arts Centre), MA.

in the manner of Polykleitos, first century AD ('), marble . Wellesley College Museum (jcwett Arts

Roman Sculptural Reproductions


identifying which ancient work it replicates to establishing whether it copies any specific Greek work at all. I8 Is it a reproduction of a particular original or simply a repetition of approved forms in a classical manner? In the face of the many Roman variations on Greek styles now recog- nized, what defines a work as a true copy? How safe is it to reconstruct Greek sculpture from Roman replicas? The recent acquisition by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts of a magnificent replica of Polykleitos' Doryphoros and an exhibition in Frankfurt in 1990 devoted to Polykleitos have focused attention on works in his style. In the publications generated by these events (including a new and lavishly illustrated list of Polykleitan replicas compiled by Detlev Kreikenbom), the Diskophoros type to which the Copenhagen youth belongs is still classed as a copy of one of his lost works and used to reconstruct his career. I9 A native of Argos or Sicyon, Polykleitos was one of the leading bronze sculptors of the fifth century BC. 20 He took many pupils, and, as was not uncommon in Greece where occupations often passed from father to son, had more than one artist among his descendants. 2I His work is known from signatures on the bases of lost statues and from later literary accounts of his life and works. 22 The most important source is Pliny the Elder who, in the first century AD, credited him with major stylistic innovations and listed his best-known bronzes. The most famous of these were the Doryphoros, or 'spear-bearer', and the Diadoumenos, or 'youth tying a fillet' (p. 12). These have been reliably recognized from copies. Even the name of the Diadoumenos was well- enough known to make a pun on it. A Roman named Tiberius Octavius Diadumenus put a little relief of the Polykleitan statue instead of a portrait of himself on his tombstone. 23 Both these Polykleitan statues represent nude young men standing with their weight on one leg. The displacement of weight, thrusting one hip to the side, sets up a characteristic movement in the torso, usually referred to by the Italian term contrapposto. Their heads are slightly turned; they share similar facial features, an almost architectonic musculature and a distinctive rhythm that balances relaxed and contracted muscles in an easy, swinging stance. 24 The Doryphoros poses with a spear; the Diadou- menos tightens a long ribbon around his hair. Among the studies in these recent volumes, an important contribution is that of Gregory Leftwich. 25 He analysed the anatomy of the replicas of the Doryphoros and Diadoumenos and compared them with Classical Greek medical treatises. Both in the details of anatomical knowledge and


in the conceptual framework defining a healthy body, the statues and the

medical literature coincide. Leftwich argues that nothing in the sculptures reveals either information or theory foreign to Greek

physicians of Polykleitos' day. An analysis by Leftwich of a Diskophoros in the collection of Wellesley College, Massachusetts (p. 12), concluded that its anatomy matched the Doryphoros and Diadoumenos, known Polykleitan works. Every significant feature appeared to him authenti-

cally Polykleitan.

medicine and sculpture, Guy Metraux endorses Leftwich's conclusions. 27 The case for identifying the Diskophoros as a copy of a work by

Polykleitos has, therefore, grown stronger in recent years, not weaker. The impediments to believing it to be a copy come, not from any anachronisms in the anatomy, but from the search for the original. Evidence for an original proves to be elusive and suggests that Roman sculptors were able to recreate styles from the past with greater sophistication and sensitivity than they are usually deemed to possess. Besides the approximately ten works listed by Pliny, many others by

Some may have been

made by one or more of the later sculptors named after him, but it is clear that he was a prolific artist, with a recognizable style. Pliny describes his works as all very much alike, paene ad unum exemplum. 29 He is also said to have written a treatise on perfect proportions called the canon, or 'measuring stick', and to have made a statue to exemplify it (usually identified with the Doryphoros).3 0

Kreikenbom and the organizers of the Frankfurt exhibition believe that in addition to the Doryphoros and the Diadoumenos, three additional mature male nudes by Polykleitos can be recognized from Roman replicas: a victor statue known today as the Diskophoros, a Hermes and

a Herakles. The evidence, however, for identifying these lost works varies from one series to the next. It is strongest for the Diadoumenos, where the singularity of the pose, tying the fillet around the head, and the consistency of the replicas, which almost always combine the same head and body types, combined with Ti. Octavius Diadumenus' punning stela, make the identification certain. 31 The type identified as the Doryphoros also consistently associates the same head and body

Of the sixty-seven replicas listed by Kreikenbom, only twelve


show any significant variation and several of these do not properly belong in a replica series. 33 The readily identifiable figure so consistently reproduced resembles the textual accounts of Polykleitos' work and the

In the most recently published study of Greek


Polykleitos are mentioned in ancient literature.



Roman Sculptural Reproductions


replicas of the Diadoumenos so closely that it is difficult to imagine not attributing it to the same sculptor. The attributions of the Hermes, Herakles and Diskophoros are less secure, and trying to find an original for each leads to a dizzying blur of confused identities. The work of later restorers, who have sprinkled the surviving heads on an assortment of ancient and modern bodies, and, with cheerful abandon, given ancient bodies new heads, makes the task particularly laborious. Once the Polykleitan replicas are disentangled from later additions, however, the grounds for the attributions emerge. More heads than bodies have been recognized, and they are grouped into series by hairstyle. In all the hair strongly resembles the Doryphoros. Hard and crisp, it lacks the puffy quality found in the hair of the Diadoumenos replicas. Chiselled locks of neat curls descend in layers from the crown of the head to frame the face in symmetrical whorls and tendrils. Each type, however, is identified by a distinctive arrangement of the locks around the face, which fall in recognizable patterns over the brows and in front of the ears. In the portraiture of the royal family at the beginning of the Roman Empire, such distinctive hair arrangements identify particular indivi- duals. The men in Augustus' family are depicted as strongly resembling the emperor but he is distinguished by a formulaic hairstyle, found on heads of very different style and workmanship.34 Modern scholars have used the technique that court artists devised for identifying ruler portraits to identify the originals of ideal sculptures. They have classified all the young, male Polykleitan heads that share the same arrangements of locks as replicas of a common original. Applying the principles that work for one genre to the other, however, only points out the differences between them. The problem can be illustrated by comparing portraits of Augustus with copies of the Diadoumenos. Augustus was presented to his subjects in many guises - seated or standing, wearing a toga or a military cuirass, with or without the attributes of divinity. Even the portrait heads could look very different from each other. The heads were of different shapes; sometimes the hair was modelled, sometimes it was flat. Within each type were differences in the inclination of the head, its angle on the neck and the direction of the gaze. The formulaic hairstyle made the subject recognizable despite differences in presentation. Artists reproducing a work of art faced an altogether different problem. They needed to capture the distinctive contours, characteristic modelling and unchanging appearance of a specific image. A representa-

to capture the distinctive contours, characteristic modelling and unchanging appearance of a specific image. A representa-



r 6 M1RANDA MARVIN Hermes/Mercury (?) in rhe manner of Polykleiros, second century AD, marble. Sraadiche

Hermes/Mercury (?) in rhe manner of Polykleiros, second century AD, marble. Sraadiche Museen, Berlin.

tion of a young man who is clothed, not nude, seated, not standing, fastening his shoe, not tying a fillet, is not a copy of the Diadoumenos. The details of the hair contribute only marginally to the identification. The relief on Ti. Octavius Diadumenus' stela, for example, renders the hair only sketchily, but no one is in any doubt about the identity of the figure. The overall appearance of Polykleitos' original is clearly enough reproduced to make its identity plain, and so the copy is a success. Among the Roman replicas of mature nude males in a Polykleitan style, only the series based on the Doryphoros and Diadoumenos seem likely to reproduce specific works of art. A close examination of the other three fails to produce evidence suggesting separate replica series, but indicates a common origin for them all. In the Diskophoros series Kreikenbom lists eighteen heads. Most are plain but two have wings attached above the brows that should make them Hermes, the winged messenger god of the Greeks, identified by the Romans with their native Mercury.35 Three heads attached to the straight pillar bases known as herms, however, wear a celebratory wreath wrapped in a long ribbon, an attribute of Herakles/Hercules. 36 Only three Diskophoros heads were found with bodies, always with the same one: a youth with musculature and rhythm resembling the Doryphoros and the Diadoumenos, but feet planted firmly on the

Roman Sculptural Reproductions


ground. 37 This body type, however, is also used for other heads. Four replicas listed by Kreikenbom have ideal heads of different types, three have portrait heads and one torso-length herm holds the heavy club that identifies him as Herakles. 38 The Diskophoros torsos themselves, headless or not, show consider- able variation. The torso occurs nude, with a baldric, with a mantle

clasped around the neck, with a mantle bunched on the shoulder, with a straight mantle and baldric, with the left hand holding a discus and with the stub of a lost attribute attached to the left upper arm. 39 Attached to the tree-trunk support that strengthens the right leg are in the Copenhagen example a sea monster, in another example, a lyre, and in

a third, a dog.

Copenhagen replica also occurs on a statue of Perseus in Ostia and suggested that the figure in Denmark represented Perseus, who slew a sea monster to rescue Andromeda. 41 The lyre support is attached to one of

the Hermes figures with winged heads, and no one has yet suggested an identity for the figure with the dog. 42 Eighteen heads are also listed for the series called the Hermes. Three have wings like the two winged examples in the Diskophoros series. 43 Three others have traces of different headgear. 44 One of the winged heads sits on a not very Polykleitan torso in the Boboli Gardens, Florence, bedecked with a mantle, a caduceus and the infant Dionysos in

a pose reminiscent of Praxiteles. 45 A little classicistic bronze has an

almost intact Polykleitan head and body, but is so idiosyncratic that it cannot be said to copy anything literally.4 6 Another one of the heads is attached to a youth with a mantle draped across his hips.47 Kreikenbom suggests that three additional headless torsos of Polykleitan musculature and rhythm that do not quite fit into any known series might be some of the missing bodies for this one. 48 The Herakles is Kreikenbom's smallest series. Only fourteen works make up the main group, with eight others in a subset of miniatures. Of the heads, ten are plain, one has wings in the hair and three herms wear the ribboned wreath. 49 Only three heads are attached to bodies. All three torsos are the same: solid musculature, a rhythm and contrapposto strongly resembling the Doryphoros and the Diadoumenos, and a distinctive pose in which the left hand is held behind the back. No legs and feet are preserved to suggest a stance. Historically, the response to the mutability of these types has been to comb the lists of Polykleitos' lost works for three possible originals, (required by the three hairstyles), select one replica in each series as an


Poulsen noticed that the sea monster attached to the



accurate reproduction of it and identify all the others as copyists' variants. The hairstyles determined how many originals were required, while the poses and attributes determined which original each one reproduced. The Diskophoros series was named by Carlo Anti after the example in the T orlonia collection that has been restored holding a discus. He hypothesized that the original was one of Polykleitos' many statues of athletic victors. 51 Polykleitos' Hermes (Pliny, Natural History, XXXIV, 55) was identified as the original of the type that included three heads with wings and the Boboli Gardens' Hermes holding the infant Dionysos. In the Frankfurt catalogue, Peter Bol, noting that no work in this series has any alternative attributes, accepts Anti's identification.52 The series with the hand held behind the back is thought to copy Polykleitos' Herakles (Pliny, loe. eit.).53 Perhaps the most popular image of Herakles in the Roman world stood in that pose, the type known as the Herakles Farnese, believed to copy an original by the great fourth- century BC sculptor Lysippos. Presumably the fourth-century artist is believed to have imitated his fifth-century BC predecessor. 54 The tenuousness of these identifications is readily acknowledged in recent scholarship, particularly the Diskophoros, whose name occurs in quotation marks in Kreikenbom's replica list. It is not surprising, therefore, that alternatives have been proposed. In addition to Polykleitos' recorded works, there were others of which we are ignorant, and Ernst Berger, observing the downward glance of the Diskophoros, believes that the original depicted a Theseus looking at his sword. 55 Berger is unable to cite convincing parallels, however, and so the generally accepted hypothesis remains that the Diskophoros type represents a Polykleitan

victor statue, while the others represent two of his images of gods. 56 Unfortunately, of the iconographic markers used to identify the figures, only one is familiar from the mid-fifth century BC, and that is the discus, which may be restored. Herakles' gesture, placing his hand behind his back, is not known before the fourth century. 57 Wings are certainly a ubiquitous attribute of Hermes; rapid motion denoted the

traveller-god. 58 In sixth- and fifth-century BC Greek art, however,

wings that suggest his motion appear on Hermes' sandals or his hat; they do not sprout from his body. The motif of a winged head, not a winged hat, seems to originate in the Attic pottery workshop of the Talos Painter around 400 BC, too late for Polykleitos. 59 The attributes and poses, therefore, do not point directly to any works of Polykleitos. Other anomalies suggest that these may not be straightforward copies.

not point directly to any works of Polykleitos. Other anomalies suggest that these may not be


Roman Sculptural Reproductions

The three series are composed of different ingredients. The Diskophoros is made up of a variably decked-out body type used with several different heads. The Hermes is constructed from eighteen heads, only three of which are attached to bodies, none of which is the same or believed to reproduce Polykleitos' lost statue, and three fragmentary bodies whose association with the heads is only a guess. Within the Herakles group is what looks like the remains of a small but traditional replica series (including both miniatures and large-scale works) that depicted a Polykleitan nude holding his hand behind his back. Most of the heads are plain but one has wings in the hair, suggesting an identification as Hermes. The series, however, also includes three herms wearing ribboned wreaths, which usually indicate Herakles. 60 Precisely these variations occur in the heads of the Diskophoros type - plain, winged and ribboned wreaths. In both series herms only are wreathed and all the wreathed herms look very much alike, although they have been so heavily restored that it is unwise to subject them to much formal analysis. The Hermes series so far lacks any wreathed herms, but includes the winged heads familiar from the other two, as well as traces of other headgear, so far not found in the others. The Hermes and Herakles series, moreover, are represented by remarkably few bodies compared with the surviving heads. The Diskophoros type is distinguished from the other two in being the most productive, in the linguistic sense. Only two identities, Hermes and Herakles, can be reconstructed for them, while the Diskophoros body is used with many different heads, portrait and ideal. Moreover, apart from the marble replicas, the Diskophoros type is ubiquitous in small bronzes where it is widely used for images of Mercury holding a money bag. 61 Since the Romans identified Mercury with Hermes, the clear favourite for the original of the series would be Polykleitos' Hermes, were it not that the money bag is an attribute specifically of Mercury.62 The attribute signals a notable difference between the cults of the Greek and the Roman gods. 63 (It is also hard to understand why Polykleitos, sensitive to implied movement, would have chosen to depict the rapid Hermes as immobile, standing with both feet flat on the ground.) Mercury, whose name derives from the Latin merx, or 'goods', was less a messenger than the god of commerce, profit and wealth. As such he was widely venerated, and he occurs in small bronzes more often than any other Roman god. 64 Most of these are an appropriate size for an image in a household shrine or modest ex-voto in a sanctuary, and reflect the piety of commercial households.



The usual assumption is that the devotional image of Mercury was a replica of Polykleitos' statue of a victorious athlete given new attributes by Roman artists. So little of Greek sculpture has survived that accurately tracing the changes between replicas and originals is fruitless, and such a reworking of a Polykleitan work is entirely possible. Erika Simon has even suggested an environment in which it might have taken place. 65 The island of Delos was home to both Greek and Italian traders in the second and first centuries BC. The god with the money bag is a popular terracotta figurine there, and on the prosperous island an active group of sculptors produced innovative works with mixed Greek and Roman roots. The transformation hypothesis holds that it was in such an environment as this, where Romans mingled regularly with Greeks, that an admired work by Polykleitos was first copied and then given a new identity. Making this argument, however, requires assuming not only that the predictable response to admiring a work of art was to make copies of it, but also that form and content were independent variables. To put it in different terms, the claim must be made that what the work looked like and what it signified were separable. In later Western art, classical forms could sometimes be virtually emptied of content and familiar works could be quoted without necessarily retaining much original meaning. John Singleton Copley, for example, based Watson in his painting Watson and the Shark on the Borghese Gladiator, without intending a reference to the meaning of the original, believed in his day to represent a gladiator. 66 Only a vague impression of heroic nudity seems to be intended by the reference. It is not likely, however, that Roman art of the Republic and Early Empire permitted so much attenuation of content. A Roman artist reproducing a Greek work was operating within a living tradition, not revivifying a dead monument. Adapting Greek images for Roman needs was a familiar pattern in the development of Roman art. When works were used in this way, however, both subjects were to be recognized at once and a relationship established between them. Giving Mercury the appearance of Hermes indicated the identification of the Roman with the Greek god. Funerary images of private citizens as gods or heroes had spiritual significance. 67 In the political realm, appropriating Greek imagery was a conscious choice made by rulers. 68 To the Romans a famous work of art was more than an admirable formal solution; it was a representation of something. Its identity lay in what it signified, not just in the disposition of its limbs. 69 The intellectual apparatus that led to a

Roman Sculptural Reproductions


purely formal use of visual quotations was as foreign to the Romans as the academic art curriculum that trained eighteenth-century artists to produce them. The necessary conditions, in other words, that permitted Watson and the Shark were absent, and it is as unlikely on conceptual grounds that anyone of these series literally copies a famous work of Polykleitos as it is on the evidence of their attributes and poses. There is, of course, the theoretical possibility that the three series copied not famous works of Polykleitos but obscure ones. The originals would have been too little known to be recognized and copyists would have been free to give them the identities that suited their needs. The reasons for making replicas of well-known works of art are many. Copying obscure ones and using them as body types for varying identities requires explanation. The procedure is comprehensible if certain assumptions are made about both patrons and artists. Patrons who can distinguish a copy of a genuine Polykleitos from a newly created work in his style must be assumed. They must 'prefer masterpieces, even in copies' (to paraphrase Boardman) to originals in the manner of the ancients. Secondly, artists must be assumed who know that they cannot reproduce the past without detection and who turn to copying in order to satisfy their patrons' demand for authenticity. All of these assumptions about what Roman patrons wanted and what they knew are questionable. No testimony has survived from any Roman patron wishing to purchase a replica, for example, so we do not know what qualities they sought in them. The conspicuous signatures of replica-makers, however, suggest that perhaps excellence in the work at hand was as highly valued as fidelity to the original. How technical the language of Roman art criticism was, how sensitive Romans were to the nuances of individual artists' styles and how closely certain manners were associated with the names of particular artists are all debated. To assume that they, like moderns, saw certain traits as 'Polykleitan' and others as 'Praxitelean' or 'Lysippan', for instance, is speculative.7° The assumptions about artists are equally dubious. Roman artists felt no timidity about replicating earlier styles. These were thoroughly known and intimately familiar to them. Roman workshops, after all, were filled with clay, wax and plaster models of famous statuary used for making replicas.7 I The serial production that characterized both bronze and marble sculpture depended on piece moulds made from casts, and ateliers possessed collections of heads, limbs and sections of torsos. Unlike their patrons, Roman artists knew from experience what made up

collections of heads, limbs and sections of torsos. Unlike their patrons, Roman artists knew from experience



Polykleitan anatomy, Polykleitan rhythm and Polykleitan hair. The same physical evidence that shows that they made exact copies of ancient sculpture shows that they did not need to do so in order to recreate ancient styles. When today we find some replicas to be authentically Polykleitan, moreover, it is not as though we are comparing them with the real thing. The anatomy the Diskophoros series has been shown to reproduce is that

of those Roman marbles that we believe most accurately reflect the lost

bronze Doryphoros and Diadoumenos. Our reliance on Roman copies for our knowledge of Greek sculptors inevitably colours our under- standing of their works. We are forced to reconstruct Polykleitos' style from the evidence currently available. Were that evidence to include any


his originals, our reconstruction might be quite different. To call the Diskophoros, Hermes and Herakles types accurate copies


lost works by Polykleitos is not impossible, but it is unlikely. It entails

accepting a view of Roman patrons and Roman artists that brings them

uncomfortably close to more recent makers and purchasers of sculpture.

A product of the nineteenth century, the standard hypothesis perfectly

accommodates that century's practices and expectations. It is less convincing as a reflection of the habits of ancient Romans, and it fits the physical evidence of the existing statues only awkwardly. There is no reason to assume that three different hairstyles must indicate derivations from three different works by Polykleitos. It is simpler and more plausible to describe them all as creations of Roman artists based on the Doryphoros, as has been separately suggested for the Hermes by Dorothy Kent Hill and the Herakles by Brunilde Ridgway.?2 They were designed to remind viewers of Polykleitos but not to reproduce specific works. They were individuated not by the details of the hair, but by broad categories of pose and attributes. Many more heads than bodies survive because they were originally used, not each with only one body type but with several, including many of the variously classified not-quite-Doryphoros or generic-brand Polykleitan bodies known. 73 The ready availability of piece moulds made recombining replicas of separate parts tempting, and the principle was a familiar one.?4 It was, after all, how terracottas were made, and how the ideal portrait statue had been conceptualized. It is interesting that the hair of the newly created works more closely echoes the Doryphoros than the Diadoumenos, and that his pose is more often adapted to new purposes than is the unvarying Diadoumenos. In small bronzes, for example, Annalis Leibendgut finds no replicas of the

new purposes than is the unvarying Diadoumenos. In small bronzes, for example, Annalis Leibendgut finds no

Roman Sculptural Reproductions

Doryphoros simply carrying a spear, only many adaptations of pose and anatomy?5 Michael Koortbojian suggests that basing the hairstyles on Polykleitos' best-known work might have been designed to signal to the knowledgeable an unmistakable allusion to the artist's style?6 Whatever the reason, these new Roman works are variations on the Doryphoros theme?? The large marble and small bronze replica series, although illustrating some common principles of sculptural reproduction, occupied separate segments of the Roman art market. Most of the large marble statuary made in the Roman empire was commissioned for architectural settings. Public and private buildings were adorned with statues whose subjects and styles were suited to the purpose of the building?8 Gymnasia, for

instance, or the exercise areas in a bath were furnished with statues of classical athletes, deities and personifications associated with athleticism, health and fortitude?9 The Doryphoros and Diadoumenos were widely recognized as prototypical depictions of athletes, exemplars of the manly

virtues associated with athletic competition.

common in gymnastic settings around the Empire. Not satisfied simply to repeat over-familiar images, designers complemented them with newly created athletes such as the Torlonia discus-holder. The great gods of the gymnasium were Hermes and Herakles, at least from the fourth century BC on, and to depict them in a style associated with well-known images of Greek athletes was singularly apt. 8I Similarly, a Polykleitan manner was suited to a heroic figure from myth. The iconography of Perseus, the hero whose attributes included winged boots that enabled him to fly, blurs repeatedly with that of Hermes in Roman painting. 82 He is, however, a fairly rare subject in sculpture. Infrequently called upon to depict him, a workshop needing to produce a Perseus might choose a more familiar winged figure, Mercury/ Hermes, as the base on which to construct the hero, propping him against a sea monster to give him individuality. Once the associations with noble figures of athletes, gods and heroes were made, these Polykleitan types became suitable for portrait sculpture. Should viewers looking at the portraits be reminded of other uses of similar bodies, the association with figures of heroic athleticism would only enhance the nobility of the representation. The large-scale marble versions of these types have neither a single identity like the copies of the Diadoumenos, nor the unlimited range of identities of forms emptied of content. They are used principally for the two chief gods of the gymnasium and for portraits of men wishing to

are used principally for the two chief gods of the gymnasium and for portraits of men
are used principally for the two chief gods of the gymnasium and for portraits of men


Replicas of them were


associate themselves with them. They are works that suggest how the culture of the Greek palaestra was adapted for the Roman dite. Their context is that mass of Roman statues often described as copies of works by the successors of Polykleitos, or as pastiches in the manner of various classical sculptors, which ornamented the porticos and fa<;ades of Roman athletic complexes. 83 The context of the small bronzes is quite different. These can be divided into two classes. The smaller category consists of secular figurines, many of which were reduced replicas of works of art. The bronze versions of the Diadoumenos are a good example. 84 As with the marble versions of Polykleitos' original, they differ in modelling, anatomy and handling, but pose, contour and gesture are unmistakable. They rarely add new attributes. Had the makers of Roman bronzes wanted to copy a Diskophoros of Polykleitos in the same way as they copied his Diadoumenos, they could have done so. No evidence exists today, however, to indicate that they did. Instead, the surviving miniatures classed as replicas of the Diskophoros belong to the much larger category of small bronzes the Romans produced as religious objects, and demonstrate great varieties of attributes, poses and contours. Rather than several distinct originals, they seem to echo a general Polykleitan manner based on the Doryphoros, with modifications appropriate for a function in cult. Most of these small creations were made as private devotional images to be displayed in the family lararium or left as a gift in a sanctuary. The god most likely to appear in a Polykleitan style is Mercury. Identified with the Etruscan Turms as well as the Greek Hermes, he had a long iconographic tradition in Rome as a youthful but mature deity, a vigorous, masculine presence. The four-square, muscular style of Polykleitos suited him. It was associated by the Romans with the values cherished by serious, responsible, god-fearing citizens and with the gods they honoured. 85 Hard-working Roman tradesmen venerated Mercury and prized the sober virtues the rhetoricians found in Polykleitos' works. Whether or not most viewers attached the artist's name to his manner, a Mercury in Polykleitan style evoked all the right resonances. He was the most popular but not the only deity represented in that manner. The associations of the style with heroic masculinity are as apparent in devotional figurines as they are in marble statuary. Jupiter, Hercules, Neptune and Mars frequently appear as Polykleitan figures, whereas Bacchus and Apollo are virtually unknown. 86

Neptune and Mars frequently appear as Polykleitan figures, whereas Bacchus and Apollo are virtually unknown. 8
Neptune and Mars frequently appear as Polykleitan figures, whereas Bacchus and Apollo are virtually unknown. 8

Roman Sculptural Reproductions

As they never reproduce the spearbearing iconography, so the religious

images rarely reproduce the exact stance of the Doryphoros - a feature of

the work notoriously difficult to categorize. 87

walking, the Spear-bearer appears poised on the brink of action, suggesting at once tension and relaxation, movement and rest. Most of the bronzes stand quietly with both feet on the ground, while even those closer to the Doryphoros pose tend to reduce his movement. 88 Considering the function of the works - a display of gods in a shrine - the increased frontality and loss of movement appear reasonable modifications for Roman artists to have made to a Polykleitan schema. Since the large marbles were principally intended for display in a niche, between columns or against a wall, a similar tendency towards a frontal

and stable pose is comprehensible for these toO. 89 The usual explanation, of course, is not a reworking of a Polykleitan pose to suit new circumstances but copying a different model. The Diskophoros type is thought to keep both feet on the ground because its original was an early work by Polykleitos (around 460 BC, according to Bol), before he had developed the bold, new ponderation of the Doryphoros. 90 The evidence of the small bronzes, however, strongly suggests a model of adaptation from a schema rather than a copying of

separate originals. 9I Every gradation of pose between stiff frontality and

a walking figure is found in them. 92 The Diskophoros solution of a

Polykleitan contrapposto in the torso but both feet on the ground, although very popular, is only one among many. Similarly, the empty

right hand of the Doryphoros is usually given the money bag to hold, and

a caduceus often replaces the spear in the left, but there is no rule. The bronzes differ from both suggested originals in usually having a cloak draped over the left arm or fastened around the neck. It is a more consistent attribute than winged boots, in fact, although not more so than a winged hat. The picture that emerges is of workshops attempting to reconcile a cult requirement for a frontal-Mercury-with-money-bag with a formal requirement that the god look Polykleitan enough to suggest suitable values. 93 The makers of domestic religious images clearly followed rules unique

to their trade. Recognition of the god was their paramount concern, not

a close resemblance to a prototype. Regional styles, period styles, patron choice, cult practice and workshop habit were significant variables. 94 Although many were related to familiar cult statues, the little images did not have to reproduce them exactly. While many consistently echoed a single style, therefore, others were boldly eclectic. The artists imaginat-

Neither standing nor



ively combined disparate styles but equipped the god with recognizable attributes and comfortingly familiar poses. 95 The large-scale marble workshops produced a smaller volume of works than did the bronze workers, and many fewer designed for cult purposes. Their versions of Polykleitan youths therefore reflect a creative process that is similar but not identical. They tended to be, for example, formally more conservative but iconographically more innovative than bronze workshops. Nevertheless, many of the same principles of composition are apparent, and their creations demonstrate a comparable range of styles and manners. The Diskophoros, Hermes and Herakles types represent thoughtful recreations of a single, consistent manner that betray their late origin only in subtle touches of pose and attributes. Attributing them to Roman marble-carvers grants those artists more sensitivity to past styles than is usually allowed them. The low regard in which Roman sculptors are held, however, is a consequence of accepting their works as no more than copies. The argument is circular: if Roman artists could produce only copies since they lacked imagination, they could produce only copies, and so on. What these Polykleitan figures demonstrate is that anything but the 'exhaustion of the imagination' regretted by Wickhoff characterized Roman workshops. Instead they indicate an environment in which styles were linked to values, and works designed for specific settings had to have styles deemed appropriate to those settings. Copies of ancient works were only one possibility. Sculptors could also create works of their own in a single ancient manner or in an imaginative combination of several different manners or could create completely original variations on the antique. 96 The constraints of decorum or appropriateness may have limited choices, but they did not forbid creativity.97 It is as examples of Roman creativity that such works as the Copenhagen Diskophoros should be studied and labelled. They are interesting in themselves, not merely as ghosts of Greek originals. When and where they were made, how they were used, what they represented, who carved them, who commissioned them - all these things are worth knowing. A surprising amount of information, moreover, is available for most of the Roman replicas in modern collections. A combination of archival research and scientific tests makes it possible to answer many of these questions and place the replicas in their Roman context. Their dates can be established by using the stylistic criteria worked out for other categories of Roman sculpture. Christopher Hallett has pointed out the dangers of circular reasoning in dating works by style and then using

Roman Sculptural Reproductions

the same works to define the style of the period, but, used with skill and caution, stylistic dating can be as effective for Roman ideal statuary as

of art. 98 Enough replicas are signed to

for any other category of works

make learning to recognize the products of specific workshops a not unreasonable goal. Since most major Roman marble workshops clustered around the great quarry sites, the source of marble for a statue can indicate where, in all likelihood, it was made. A set of cheap and non-destructive laboratory tests can determine with probability (not yet with certainty) the likely quarry for most Roman marbles. 99 The location where the work was found can be compared with the quarry site. Was the work shipped from a distant quarry or does it represent local production? Can regional tastes in styles or subjects be recognized? How structured was the Roman marble trade? If the precise site where the sculpture was excavated is known, then the setting in which it was placed can be understood. Did the work ornament a gymnasium, a garden, a temple, a public bath? Was it in public or in private hands? Who might have commissioned it and for what purpose? Even when no excavation history is available, the city or region in which it was found can often be deduced from the earliest collection in which it is recorded. Most of the large-scale Roman marbles exhibited today that do not come from excavations come from old Italian collections. 100 Many of these collections were made locally, of antiquities harvested from nearby sites. Often there are inventories that may record provenances. There are complications, of course. As treasured possessions, ancient marbles were treated lovingly by early collectors. They were carefully cleaned and elaborately restored by first-rate sculptors. Like antique furniture or plate, they were mended and repaired. The consequence is that the details of their surface treatment, on which dating and connoisseurship depend, are often those of the restorer, not of the original artist. Many of these marbles are the products of two separate workshops, that of their initial manufacture, and that of their restoration. In the twentieth century, in the search for 'authenticity', many have been stripped of restored limbs and attributes, but the new surfaces, of course, remain. The work can never return to a pristine condition. These ancient marbles as we see them today, in fact, are unreliable guides to lost Greek statues, but extraordinary documents for the history of Western taste. They are witnesses to the vitality of the classical tradition that took forms that Greek artists originated, adjusted them in Roman ateliers to express Roman ideas and then remade them for


European collectors. Rather than having no history, these Roman replicas are palimpsests recording successive layers of the Western world's fascination with the classical past.


Authority, Authenticity and Aura:

Walter Benjamin and the Case of Michelangelo


In our culture, works of visual art are often especially valued as unique objects issuing from the hand of a single, gifted author. In significant part, this value has been created in interaction with reproduction in all its forms from at least the sixteenth century onwards. Photography, the predominant modern form of reproduction, has continued to maintain and even perhaps to reinforce the reverence that we accord to the artist's originals. The very opposite of this claim was advanced by WaIter Benjamin in the celebrated essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'. I Benjamin argued that photography was a special case, and predicted that this form of 'mechanical reproduction' would eventually democratize the work of art, stripping it of 'aura', that nimbus of admiration and awe that psychologically distanced it from the spectator and made it seem an object of wonder. In this reduced form, his thesis seems simple enough to grasp. It has indeed in many circles been taken as self-evidently true, but interpretative difficulties lie in wait for anyone who wants to test it seriously. For one thing, the notorious density of Benjamin's prose tends to inhibit reduction of argument to such stark declaration. For another, his idiosyncratic terminology makes for fundamental problems of understanding. What might be meant by 'aura' has been debated at length: 2 less attention has been given to the concept of 'mechanical reproduction' itself. Though Benjamin used the phrase throughout chiefly to refer to photographic processes, he did not explain why photography should be so dramatically separated from previous modes of reproductive image-making. At the same time, he bundled together some quite different practices united only by a common technology, in a way that quickly leads to confusion.



As we shall see, the two points are related, though it is Benjamin's lack of discrimination that is the easier to demonstrate since his confusion was in some measure abetted, if not generated, by a terminological vagueness encountered in most of the major European languages. Even when speaking only of art, it is oddly difficult to define what is meant by the concept of reproduction. Is replication, for instance, simply an acceptable synonym or a more neutral term embracing a number of varied phenomena? By way of anticipating a reply, we may observe that not all replicas are considered to be reproductions: fakes form an interestingly different category, while the concept of the multiple work of art is significantly at variance with the idea of a facsimile. Eighteenth-century mezzotints made after paintings, like picture postcards sold in museum shops today, are not replicas at all, though most people would agree to call them reproductions. Such distinctions emerge from considerations of usage, intention and context of viewing; in short from reception, rather than from differences between manufacturing process. My present purpose is to put Benjamin's thesis to the test by examining issues raised by two- and three-dimensional versions, variants and copies of Michelangelo's sculpture. This may enable us, first, to see whether it is possible to draw some working distinctions between one type of image and another and, second, to ask questions about the changes in perception effected by photographic reproduction. Focus on the pre-modern should allow continuities as well as disjunctions to emerge more clearly than they otherwise would. The reason for discussing sculpture rather than painting is that sculpture is sometimes taken to be an art especially resistant to reproduction, an art of which Michelangelo is often regarded as one of the purest practitioners. With respect to the integrity of the sculptural object, for example, it is often maintained that Michelangelo's work stands at the opposite pole to Auguste Rodin's. Michelangelo's so-called Atlas Slave 3 is without doubt an 'original' whose status is enhanced by the very fact that it remains unfinished. The figure emerges from a block which itself bears the marks of those processes by which it was brought to this stage of semi- completion. Indeed, those very marks guarantee its authenticity as a historic survival. Like the facture of a painting, they are signs that the shaped stone is an issue from Michelangelo's hands. In Benjamin's terms, those traces of the chisel constitute part of its 'aura'. By comparison, a Rodin marble such as La Pensee, 4 although it displays similar signs of manufacture, is a fiction. Far from being unique, it is a version of a work originally conceived in a different medium (clay or plaster), translated

Walter Benjamin and Michelangelo

3 1

Walter Benjamin and Michelangelo 3 1 Michelangelo, Atlas Slave, after 1513, marble. Galleria dell'Accademia,

Michelangelo, Atlas Slave, after 1513, marble. Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence.

after 1513, marble. Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence. into stone, not by Rodin but by a professional carver.

into stone, not by Rodin but by a professional carver. 5 In other words, the

marks here do not show how excavation of the block was broken off (by chance or because the sculptor was dissatisfied), but deliberately concoct

the unearned appearance of an image half-discovered in the rock. In such judgements, aesthetics seem to become a branch of ethics. It is a view reinforced by certain modern theories of art, according to which Michelangelo's statue, unlike Rodin's, may be judged as an autonomous object conceived from the first to take one form and not another. Repetition or paraphrase can only weaken it, since any repetition, however successfully it may fool the viewer, misses the whole point of sculpture as art: its unrepeatable presence. To adapt a phrase of Philip Larkin's, reproduction can only mean dilution, not increase. 6 The trouble with the theory is that it has corresponded only rarely to what has happened from the Renaissance up to the present day. Studio

3 2


practice routinely embraced procedures of reproduction in the general sense of the word. Terracottas and small bronzes form a whole class of artefacts designed to be produced as multiples. While it is true that Michelangelo on the whole avoided bronze and only ever produced two works in the medium, both unique casts, it is often forgotten that the actual process of production by stone-carvers in a workshop has frequently run counter to the notion of the autonomous, insular work of art in any straightforward sense. Even Michelangelo, though his methods were hardly those of a Rodin, was not in this respect as eccentric as is sometimes supposed. Transference of an image from one medium to another is a resource deeply embedded within the traditions of European sculpture that Michelangelo inherited. Long before Rodin, delegation of carving was customary. Especially during the execution of a large-scale project, sculptors would be employed to realize models of clay, wax or stucco in stone. For the Medici Chapel, Montorsoli and Raffaele da Montelupo carved Saints Cosmas and Damien after Michelangelo's design as part of a programme intended to be completed by a team of sculptors under the master's control.? Current, certainly commercial, consensus would probably value the models Michelangelo prepared more highly than the completed statues and there is reason to believe that sixteenth- century collectors were interested in similar items. A clay head of Damien was acquired by Aretino within the artist's lifetime. But the point brings us to one of those essential discriminations. Aretino would not have believed himself to be acquiring an 'original' of which Montorsoli's Medici saint was a 'copy' any more than a modern collector of manuscripts would regard a holograph of an Eliot poem as somehow more authentic than its printed counterpart. Studio replication of certain images has also formed an integral part of workshop practice certainly since the seventeenth century, 8 and there is some indication that the practice may have begun much earlier. In sixteenth-century Italy, it is often difficult to know whether bronze or clay reductions of sculpture were made in the master's studio or represent a widespread form of piracy. Whatever the case, there is little doubt that we can speak quite unambiguously here of reproduction and original. Discussion of this type of small-scale sculpture may be postponed to the second part of this chapter. At present, it is important to distinguish it from what we may call the carved multiple. On at least one occasion, Michelangelo made two versions of the same work. The Risen Christ set up in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in I52I is

made two versions of the same work. The Risen Christ set up in the church of

Waiter Benjamin and Michelangelo


the second carving of a statue first commissioned in 151+9 The first was abandoned when the sculptor encountered an unsightly flaw on the face of the figure, but it was not destroyed. Although it has now disappeared, it once stood as a 'collector's item' in the courtyard of the Roman house of Metello Vari dei Porcari, who had been one of the commissioners of the work. Though there has been a tendency to suppose that Metello Vari's possession must have differed radically from the version that remains, there is no evidence to support the case beyond the presumption that Michelangelo would not willingly have repeated himself. Though these routine cases have presented problems for collectors, curators and art historians, there has never been any doubt that the images in question can in some sense or other be regarded as authentic, or at least authorized by the master or the studio. Only when that authority is lacking do we enter the troubling realm where 'versions', 'replicas', 'imitations', 'variants', 'facsimiles', 'copies' - and even fakes - abound. At this point we require a test case.


fakes - abound. At this point we require a test case. 11 In 1549, a marble

In 1549, a marble version of Michelangelo's Roman Pieta was installed in a chapel of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito. It had been made as a funerary monument by Nanni di Baccio Bigio for one of Michelangelo's closest friends, the banker Luigi del Riccio. ID Vasari gave the group an admiring notice II and the carver was himself proud enough of his achievement to inscribe his name across the sash of the Madonna, the place occupied in the original by Michelangelo's signature. The substitution did not seek to efface all thought of the inventor. Rather the contrary: it states that Nanni (designated by his family name of Lippi) made the work 'EX IMITATIONE' (in imitation) of the original group.I2 Two more texts record the installation of the work. A poem by Gian Battista Strozzi payed homage to Nanni's work in the form of an address to the Virgin:

Bellezza et onestate


Deh, come voi pur fate,

Non piangete SI forte,

onestate E Deh, come voi pur fate, Non piangete SI forte, doglia e pieta in vivo

doglia e pieta in vivo marmo morte,

Che anzi tempo risveglisi da morte,

E pur, mal grado suo,

N ostro Signore e tuo Sposo, figliolo e padre Unica sposa sua figliuola e madre.




3 4 ANTHONY HUGHES MicheJangelo, Pieta , c. 1497-1501, marble. St Peter's, Rome. Nanni di Baccio
3 4 ANTHONY HUGHES MicheJangelo, Pieta , c. 1497-1501, marble. St Peter's, Rome. Nanni di Baccio

MicheJangelo, Pieta , c. 1497-1501, marble. St Peter's, Rome.

Pieta , c. 1497-1501, marble. St Peter's, Rome. Nanni di Baccio Big i o, Pieta, c
Pieta , c. 1497-1501, marble. St Peter's, Rome. Nanni di Baccio Big i o, Pieta, c

Nanni di Baccio Bigio, Pieta, c. 1549, marble . Santo Spirito, Florence .

WaIter Benjamin and Michelangelo


Ah you whose beauty, chastity, grief and pity live in the dead marble, do not continue to weep as sorely as you do in case you should prematurely and reluctantly rouse from death Our Lord and your bridegroom, son and father, 0 singular bride, his daughter and his mother. 13

Less flatteringly, an anonymous Florentine diarist, evidently a savagely puritan Catholic of the Counter-Reformation, contemporaneously noted that in March 1549

a Pied was unveiled in Sto Spirito, sent to this church by a Florentine, and they said that the original came from Michelangelo Buonarroti, that inventor of filth who puts his faith in art rather than devotion. All the modern painters and sculptors imitate similar Lutheran fantasies so that now throughout the holy churches are painted and carved nothing but figures to put faith and devotion in the grave. But one day God I hope will send his saints to throw idolaters like these to the ground. I4

saints to throw idolaters like these to the ground. I 4 Taken together, Nanni's inscription, Strozzi's

Taken together, Nanni's inscription, Strozzi's madrigal and the diarist's outburst provide fascinating indicators of intention and response in connection with recycled sculptural imagery in mid-sixteenth-century Italy, but before examining their implications, we should take care once again to distinguish this type of image from the current notion of reproduction. While most of the modern literature refers to Nanni's Pieta

as a copy, it would actually be better to call it a variant. Though its form leaves the derivation from the original beyond doubt, its many divergences from Michelangelo's model are marked and have received some attention in the secondary literature. I5 Here the inscription on the Virgin's sash helps to make an important point. Throughout the sixteenth century, 'imitation', the term used by Nanni and, incidentally, by the diarist, implied not mimicry but emulation, an enterprise whose aim embraced both humility and ambition. The task of carving Michelangelo's group over again was the tribute paid by a younger rival and the changes he introduced would have been judged against the standard set by the original. From this perspective, we may say that Nanni's variant indicates that Michelangelo's work had achieved classic status. As A. J. Minnis has shown, throughout the Middle Ages and beyond, the notions of authority and authorship were intertwined and it was a measure of the authority of a text to be quoted, cited and considered worthy of

imitation. I6 Though

chiefly to the authors of sacred scripture, the fathers of the Church and certain ancient writers, such moderns as Dante and Petrarch had

acquired comparable status long before the beginning of the sixteenth

acquired comparable status long before the beginning of the sixteenth at first this signal auctoritas had

at first this signal auctoritas had been confined


ANTHONY HUGHES Gregorio de' Rossi, Pieta flanked by Rachel and Leah, 16x6, bronze . Stroni Chapel,

Gregorio de' Rossi, Pieta flanked by Rachel and Leah, 16x6, bronze . Stroni Chapel,

San Andrea dell a Valle, Rome.

bronze . Stroni Chapel, San Andrea dell a Valle, Rome. century. It is not difficult to

century. It is not difficult to see in Nanni's imitation the acknowl- edgement of Michelangelo's supremacy as a sculptural model. It is for this reason that the diarist's attack has some significance for any discussion of replication, since the anonymous writer's criticism is framed as though Michelangelo's error could be read through the medium of Nanni's variant. The authority lent to the original by such allusion is considered a scandal precisely because the process of imitation mimics the authority invested in traditional replication of the divine word. In other terms, an imitation of this kind has something of the transparency expected from reproduction in our customary sense, a point reinforced by Vasari's employment of Strozzi's madrigal, a poem he cites, not in connection with the group in the del Riccio Chapel, but in his Life of Michelangelo, where it is presented as a tribute to the original Pieta in St Peter's.1 7 To a certain extent, these observations may enable us to see how other, similar objects functioned to enhance the prestige of Michelangelo's original image. These certainly include the version of the Pieta made for the grave of ]ohann Schiitz by Lorenzetto in 153018 and perhaps may even

the version of the P i e t a made for the grave of ]ohann Schiitz
the version of the P i e t a made for the grave of ]ohann Schiitz

Waiter Benjamin and Michelangelo


embrace the bronze placed above the altar of the Strozzi Chapel in San Andrea della Valle. Here the Pieta was flanked by two more bronzes after Michelangelo, the figures of Rachel and Leah from the tomb of Julius 11. The altar is inscribed 'GREGORIUS DE RUBEIS [i.e. Gregorio de' Rossi] 1616. EX AERE FUDIT'. This functions more as a founder's mark than the declaration of an author or disciple, and it is possible that the three figures were manufactured directly from casts of the marble originals. 19 The near-mechanical method of replication seems to indicate that the figures in the Strozzi Chapel stand in a different relation to Michelangelo's originals from the marbles freely carved by Lorenzetti or Nanni, and it is tempting to treat them as though they were reproductions of a sort much despised by twentieth-century art historians. Criticism of this kind is relatively easy, almost reflex: Michelangelo's purposes have been at best misunderstood if not downright vulgarized. Translation of marble into bronze has profoundly affected the legibility of the figures; the architecture is unsympathetic to Michelangelo's inventions; the juxtaposi- tion of motifs from different works is crassly insensitive to their meaning- besides which, the relative positions of Rachel and Leah have become unnecessarily reversed. Regarded as reproduction, the common reaction would be to treat the whole ensemble in terms of travesty or loss. But to regard any of the variants of the Pieta like this would be to miss an important aspect of the function of replication in such cases, one that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century observers would have regarded as routine. In this context, the writings associated with the installation of Nanni's group become crucial. Strozzi's over-elegant compilation of standard paradoxes may seem poles apart from the diarist's fundamental- ist rage, but the two texts agree in focusing attention on the overwhelming importance of the sculpture as a focus for devotion. For Strozzi, if Nanni's marble is transparent, it is because it allows access to the mysteries of the Virgin's nature and, as is often the case with such poetry, his verse seems almost wilfully inattentive to the actual appearance of the work. The Virgin weeps neither in Michelangelo's original nor Nanni's variant, a discrepancy we may choose to explain by appeal to the incorrigibly conventional nature of this form of verse, or because the icon itself is here regarded as a trigger for meditation on the Virgin's sorrow, rather than a direct representation of it. Aesthetic squeamishness should not disguise the fact that, as funerary monuments, the three versions of the Pieta work as well as the original to remind believers of the saving grace of Christ and of the Virgin's role as chief intercessor for the souls of the dead. Replication of holy images preceded by many centuries the very

role as chief intercessor for the souls of the dead. Replication of holy images preceded by
role as chief intercessor for the souls of the dead. Replication of holy images preceded by
role as chief intercessor for the souls of the dead. Replication of holy images preceded by


conception of the work of art. Multiplication of an icon, far from diluting its cultic power, rather increased its fame, and each image, however imperfect, conventionally partook of some portion of the properties of the origina1. 20 The same would be true of the devotional image's diabolic counterpart. That is why the diarist objected to the replication of an uncanonical or - as he insultingly put it - a 'Lutheran' prototype. 2I His characterization of Michelangelo as one who preferred art to piety also reveals a fear that the value of Michelangelo's authorship conferred on a work could encroach detrimentally on its status as a devotional image. Mostly, the twofold nature of the work could be held in casual equilibrium. In 1546, the French monarch Fran~ois I wrote to Michel- angelo:

Seigneur Michelangelo, because I would very much like to have some works made by you, I have instructed the Abbe of Saint Martin de Troyes [Francesco Primaticcio], who is the bearer of this present letter to go abroad to collect them. If, on his arrival, you have some fine pieces you wish to give him, I have commanded him to pay you well for them. And furthermore, for my sake, I hope that you are happy for him to take casts from the Christ of the Minerva and from Our Lady delta Febbre [the Roman Pieta] so that I may adorn one of my chapels with them, as things which I am assured are the most exquisite and excellent in your art. 22

are the most exquisite and excellent in your art. 2 2 Emphasis here slides effortlessly from
are the most exquisite and excellent in your art. 2 2 Emphasis here slides effortlessly from

Emphasis here slides effortlessly from the notion of 'art works' (quelques besognes de vostre ouvrage) to devotional images fit for a chapel and back again to 'chose que Pon m'a asseure estre des plus exquises et excellentes en vostre art'. With the casts of the Risen Christ and the Pieta, Fran~ois was hoping to get something very like a modern reproduction, tokens of great works that could if required take their part in a collection alongside similar versions of ancient sculpture. More clearly analogous to modern reproductions were the reduced versions of Michelangelo's figures in three and two dimensions that began to appear during the sixteenth century and to which we have already made passing reference. These objects and images were importantly different from the kind of versions so far discussed since they did not aim to be 'imitations' in the emulatory tradition represented by Nanni's variations on the Pieta. Nor were they near-facsimiles or substitutes like casts. Rather they can only be understood as tokens, aide- memoires, rich in information though not in any sense confusable with the originals. In three dimensions, they included small replicas of Michelangelo's work in clay and bronze, which circulated throughout the second half of the century and were themselves reproduced in second- or

clay and bronze, which circulated throughout the second half of the century and were themselves reproduced
clay and bronze, which circulated throughout the second half of the century and were themselves reproduced

Walter Benjamin and Michelangefo


Walter Benjamin and Michelangefo 3 9 Bronze copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. sixteenth century. Antonio Salamanca.
Walter Benjamin and Michelangefo 3 9 Bronze copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. sixteenth century. Antonio Salamanca.

Bronze copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. sixteenth century.

copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. sixteenth century. Antonio Salamanca. Pieta, IH7. engraving . Bibliotheque
copy of Michelangelo's Pieta. sixteenth century. Antonio Salamanca. Pieta, IH7. engraving . Bibliotheque

Antonio Salamanca. Pieta, IH7. engraving. Bibliotheque Narionale, Paris.

third-generation casts. Most were pirated or, like the small Pieta, probably made some time after the artist's death. Others such as the figurines that Daniele da Volterra made from the allegories in the Medici Chapel around about 1557 probably had Michelangelo's approval.2. 3 Like modern reproductions these were portable objects, easy to handle, allowing instant access to Michelangelo's sculptural concepts on a conveniently reduced scale. In this form, the original images were decontextualized, cut adrift from their function within the institutional and symbolic world for which they were devised and made available for special, aestheticized inspection as representatives of Michelangelo's art. As is the case with modern photographic reproduction, loss - of surface quality, colour texture and scale - was offset by the gain that intimate handling could bring. Some were collected by Tintoretto, who, according to Ridolfi, drew them from unusual angles, varying the lighting by which he viewed them. Although this verbal testimony is relatively late, Tintoretto's practices are amply documented by surviving drawings.2. 4 By these means, the sculptures could paradoxically become more completely known from the copies than they could ever be in the context of the chapel itself, where it is impossible to see them from certain aspects, an enhancement of the experience of art nowadays duplicated in photographic form by the publishers of art books.


That process of detachment from initial function is even more clearly observable in engraved reproductions, more obviously because these carry inscriptions by which we can gain some measure of what aspect of the work was considered to be important. For example, in an engraving of the Tomb of ]ulius II published by Salamanca it is clear that Michelangelo has equal billing with Julius himself. 25 More strikingly, the patron has disappeared entirely from an inscription on the same publisher's image of the Roman Pieta. 26 Though this may be an effect of the detachment of the work itself from its original location - the Pieta was removed from San Petronilla and its position altered several times afterwards 27 - the print goes further than might be expected by celebrating the sculptor's technical legerdemain. It is advertised in the statement that the two figures have been carved from a single block of marble. An almost identical formula is to be found in another engraving by Giovanni Battista de' Cavalieri, which was issued in February 1564 as a memorial to Michelangelo shortly after his death. 28 Such examples represent only a tiny fraction of the printed imagery offering two-dimensional accounts of statues and monuments. Two-dimensional reproductions were hardly as versatile as their three-dimensional counterparts, but they were cheaper and more widely distributed. Because they were accompanied by explanatory inscriptions, they were perhaps even more important a means of advertising authorship. Already by the mid-sixteenth century, the print trade existed as one of the essential institutions for the dissemination of art and the constructions of its canons of excellence. 29

art and the constructions of its canons of excellence. 2 9 III All this may seem


All this may seem to leave Benjamin's thesis more or less intact. Handmade artefacts can hardly be regarded as equivalents of the modern photograph. Benjamin's understanding of reproduction is closely bound to a standard of informational accuracy associated with the disinterested camera, whereas the 'copies' we have so far considered are, whether by design or default, noticeably unsatisfactory in some respect. Indeed, their reliability may be checked precisely by setting photographs of copy and original side by side. The standard set by this kind of 'mechanical' medium has had an effect on three-dimensional reproduction too. Today's museum facsimile, with its careful simulation of even the smallest surface accident, aims at a kind of verisimilitude achieved first by the photographic print. By these rigorous standards, early modern reproductions seem to stand in the same relation to photographs as translations of a text do to transcriptions.

Walter Benjamin and Michelangelo

But the heart of Benjamin's argument lies in his thesis that photographic reproduction removes the 'aura' from a work of art and it is this thesis that must now be addressed. 'Aura' came to signify a number of things in Benjamin's writing, not all of them compatible with one another, but within the context of his essay on reproduction it has two relatively clear and distinct meanings. The first is as an indicator of the power an artefact would once have acquired from its function within a cult. The point is quite easily illustrated by the case history examined here. Michelangelo's Roman Pieta was made for the funerary chapel of the French Cardinal Jean Bilhere de Lagraulas where it could be understood in many complementary ways. Most obviously, the Virgin occupies a place in the liturgy for the dead as chief intercessor for souls, and this fact alone would invest her figure with a special importance. 'Aura' is thus that nimbus of awe with which the cult surrounds the image and which establishes a psychological distance between the believing spectator and the statue itself. When considering the devotional function of an object within a religious cult, its appearance is of secondary importance and may in fact often be a matter of indifference. 3I However, the second way in which Benjamin employs the term 'aura' has a more obvious application to what we normally think of as the work of art. 'Aura' is here that sense of uniqueness gained from inspection of surface marks left on an object by its manufacture and its subsequent passage through time. Facture and damage are interpreted as respectively signs of authorship and of historical authenticity. However, while Benjamin seems here directly concerned with the detailed appearance of a work, his case is not a formalist one. It is the beholder who must actively interpret these traces to invest the work with a reverential nimbus. For a formalist, accidental traces left by its history would hardly matter at all. Photographic reproduction, according to Benjamin, breaks down the aura surrounding the object. Partly this is conceived as a process of radical decontextualization, which brings even the most complex artefacts inside the living room. The ubiquitous, democratizing photograph furthermore supplies multiple substitutes for an artefact, thus supposedly eroding any sense of its unique presence in space and time, robbing it, we might say, of its quiddity. The second point is easier to deal with immediately because Benjamin's argument may be neatly reversed by making the equally plausible claim that the 'aura' of authority and authenticity enveloping an original is strongly enhanced by the photographic reproduction. This

of authority and authenticity enveloping an original is strongly enhanced by the photographic reproduction. This


works in two ways. First, the very intrusive power of the camera, its ability to reveal surface qualities that cannot be detected under normal viewing conditions, tends to endorse the uniqueness of the work represented. All the peculiarities revealed in the photographic print help to fix the exact character of an object with a precision beyond the power of verbal description or the translation processes involved in handmade reproduction. The power to report on surface accidents in such a way as to enable one version of a work to be unambiguously identified from another enables photographs to acquire the status that an expert witness might have in court (not infallible, but to be heard with the greatest respect). Contrary to Benjamin's thesis, then, the photograph tends to empha- size the particularity of certain objects. Scraps of Benjamin's argument might still be salvaged. We could agree, for example that the 'aura' with which viewers invest a work sometimes remains strikingly independent of the object itself. However, this recognition hardly entails more than the fairly uncontentious observation that our responses are hugely determined by cultural make-up. Photographers have been shaped by the same cultural forces too, which affect the images they make and the way we understand them. Michel- angelo's unfinished Atlas Slave provides a useful example of the fashion in which photography has worked to reinforce common assumptions and intensify the auratic effect even against the grain of historical evidence. All the details of that unique block from which the figure emerges have been recorded with great precision in photographs taken in varying forms of illumination, but most strikingly by raking light that reveals the slightest modulation of surface. The result has been a series of pictures designed to heighten the romance of the process whereby the formless takes on Michelangelo's form. But the extent to which the marks of punch and chisel are read as autograph will vary according to the knowledge and susceptibility of the viewer. Some of these traces of labour will have been made by those who shaped the block at the quarry; others by assistants at work in the studio. For at least a hundred years, scholars have disagreed about which marks represent Michelangelo's intervention. This argument tends to reinforce Benjamin's contention that photo- graphy inaugurated a change in the way the work of art was perceived (though he drew the wrong conclusions from the fact). In a different sense, we ought to insist on the fact to which William Ivins memorably drew attention: photography is a technology whose history should be regarded as continuous with that of printmaking and some of the points

Waiter Benjamin and Michelangelo


already made about the handmade reproduction apply equally well to the photograph. The 'mechanical' part of photography may be exaggerated. However informative, no photograph is ever in practice regarded as a substitute for the object itself. Like previous forms of reproductive imagery, it is always, in the final analysis, incomplete (unless the work to be reproduced is itself a photograph, in which case a print may, on occasion, function exactly like a substitute or facsimile 32 ). Photographs are traces indices rather than icons, in terms of Peirce's famous taxonomy and only in exceptional cases do they seek the status of facsimiles. Just as the older forms of handmade reproduction differed from the original in colour, scale and texture, so does the photograph, and, like those older forms, it too is a product of a number of interpreta- tive decisions made by photographer and printer. The incompleteness of the photographic image is, of course, especially apparent in reproduc- tions of three-dimensional artefacts such as sculptures. But it is precisely because it is an indexical sign that the photograph can never be regarded as satisfying in itself. It points beyond itself to the original, advertises itself as a trace, exhibiting in extreme degree that transparency we noted earlier as a feature of the whole range of 'reproductive' types, but which is especially true of indices such as casts. Benjamin's arguments concerning the loss of cuitic context seem equally in need of review. If it were merely a question of making adjust- ments to Benjamin's case, we could argue that an engraving or small three-dimensional version of Michelangelo's Pieta already detached the work from its devotional frame sufficiently to transform perception of it. In other words, photography seems irrelevant to Benjamin's point. All forms of secular reproduction act as a kind of conceptual relocation of an object, similar in effect to a spatial shift from church to museum. In the long run, it is not the mechanism of reproduction, but countless historical processes, small and large, that finally effect any real transformation in the spectator's perception. Even the most devout twentieth-century Roman Catholic could hardly claim to have the same experience in the face of the Pieta as a visitor to Cardinal Jean de la Bilhere's chapel had around 1500. To some extent, Benjamin's essay implicitly contains answers to such objections. The transformation from cultic object enveloped in its halo of mystery and power to the democratically reproducible image is not presented as a sudden outcome of the appearance of the photograph. An apparently long historical period is interposed between the cultic era and that of mechanical reproduction, during which the value placed on the

period is interposed between the cultic era and that of mechanical reproduction, during which the value
period is interposed between the cultic era and that of mechanical reproduction, during which the value
period is interposed between the cultic era and that of mechanical reproduction, during which the value



object had to do with its status as an 'exhibitable' commodity. This is rather fuzzily presented (and Benjamin's major example contains empirically incorrect information 33 ), but what he seems to have in mind is an early modern period during which the work is valued first, primarily as a collector's item and ultimately as the museum or gallery piece: what we would normally think of as a work of art supposedly admired for its formal properties or for the author's creative power rather than for its place within a larger ceremonial context. One problem with Benjamin's argument is that it creates a much sharper division than can ever be sustained between the cultic object and that made for exhibition. In addition, Benjamin's idea of the cult is much too exclusively religious. Throughout, his essay tends to set up a linear, 'progressive' movement from religion to secularization, from the cultic object to the objet d'art and from there to envisage a further development towards a final and definitive, liberating political apprehension of imagery. For all Benjamin's subtlety, the armature on which his account is built is simplistic, strikingly similar to Auguste Comte's positivistic history of human culture whereby the world is understood by means of a progressive demystification of nature: religion succeeds magical practice and in its turn succumbs to the superior explanatory and manipulative power of the natural sciences. 34 At a crucial stage of this argument, Benjamin admitted that, towards the end of the nineteenth century, a 'religion of art' began to invest the work with a kind of substitute aura, but he appeared to believe that this notion had already had its day by the time he wrote. In general, he is resistant to any extension of the concept of cult beyond the strictly sacramental. If, however, we were to understand 'cult' as a term analogous to the anthropologist's 'ritual', then part of Benjamin's argument still retains a great deal of value, though only at the expense of his point about the effect of photography. Indeed, photographic reproduction has intensified the cultic status of art itself by means not dissimilar to those formerly used to promote the devotional icon. I am thinking here of the way in which art figures largely and inescapably in the rituals of tourism, of art-historical lectures and essays (like this one), and in those involving civic and national self-identification with historical figures. The presence of Michelangelo's head on Italian banknotes is one obvious sign of the fashion in which the Western cult of individual genius meshes with the supra-individual ideal represented by the nation-state. We may also note that Florence, as the birthplace of Michelangelo, represents another kind of cult, sometimes in harmony

Walter Benjamin and Michelangelo


with the national, sometimes chafing against it as the survivor of an older regional culture. The identification of the city's status as the origin of the 'universal' appeal of Michelangelo's art is emphasized by the strategic placement of reproductions. A marble copy of David stands outside the Palazzo Vecchio (its original location); another David, this one bronze, is accompanied by bronze versions of the Times of Day on the central monument of the Piazza Michelangelo; replicas of the Slaves were embedded in Buontalenti's grotto in the Boboli Gardens. 35 If visitors recognise these images, it is in large part because they have been made familiar through the medium of photography itself. The literal replication of figures from one context so that they may stand in another provides us with a further clue to the unsatisfactorily thin structure of Benjamin's positivistic view of the historical process. Constant reproduction, rather than reducing the work or emptying the sign, generates a multiplicity of readings, which may be carried backwards and forwards, from original to reproduction and vice versa. In this way older kinds of cult may subsist with the newer, one reinforcing the authority of the other. The Pieta, advertised through sixteenth-century engraving as the unique product of Miche1angelo's art, sustains today two distinct forms of devotion, one Catholic the other secular, and it should go without saying that two forms of reverence may co-exist now in one person in much the same way as they did for Fran~oisI and Metello Vari in the sixteenth century. In other words, replication of Michelangelo's sculpture, far from diminishing its authority, helps to enhance, even in some cases, to create it. Of course, reproduction does not work alone but as one factor in a complex of others. The replication of Michelangelo's work during the sixteenth century itself ran in parallel to another enterprise, the cult of antiquity in all its forms, literary, social and political. The seemingly inexhaustible process of refashioning ancient statuary in early modern Europe helped to constitute both that sense of the inescapable primacy of the antique and of the attachment of the modern to it that has been at the centre of so much Western art ever since. Both Fran~oisI and Tintoretto added models and casts of Michelangelo to a store of classical exemplars and their practice was imitated by the great schools of art up to the nineteenth century and beyond. Our canons have altered and we have largely exchanged the cast room for the collection of postcards and books, but like its earlier counterparts, photographic reproduction now occupies a place that is central to promoting and securing that elusive cultic penumbra Benjamin called 'aura'.

occupies a place that is central to promoting and securing that elusive cultic penumbra Benjamin called
occupies a place that is central to promoting and securing that elusive cultic penumbra Benjamin called


Art for the Masses: Spanish Sculpture In the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


The notion of reproduced images was prominent in Spanish sculpture from at least the sixteenth century to the eighteenth. Not only did sculptors produce the same subjects, such as the Virgin of Sorrows or St Francis of Assisi, but also their interpretations of these subjects fre- quently exhibited the same iconographical formulae, so that they closely paralleled one another, despite being made at different times, in different locations and by different artists. The time of the greatest flowering of art, particularly sculpture, in Spain (the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) coincided with widespread, deeply held religious fervour, creating a tremendous demand for devotional images: sculpture for the masses in every sense. Recognizing how and why devotional sculptures were made in Spain at this time is paradoxically perhaps the most fruitful way of understanding them as works of art, for they were not primarily designed to be seen as unique or original creations. I (It is no accident that they were only exceptionally signed by their creators. 2 ) Nor were they designed to be studied as works of art in a museum, for their original contexts usually within a church or convent, or sometimes in a domestic setting as an object of private devotion, were fundamental to the way they were perceived. The greatest nineteenth-century commentator on Spain, the English traveller Richard Ford (1796-1858), lamented, 'Can it be wondered that such works, now torn from their original shrines and desecrated in lay galleries should loom gloomily and out of place, like monks thrust from dim cloisters into gay daylight?'3 For these reasons many works produced in Spain do not easily accord with a certain kind of art history, in particular attributions to great names and monographic studies of artists. By looking at four groups of objects illustrating four types of reproduction, this essay aims to show what they reveal about the ways sculptors organized their workshops, how an individual sculptor might influence contemporaries and later artists, and finally how images functioned within a devotional context.

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


Spanish sculpture of this period was part of a strong tradition, which was both artistic (in that sculptors followed sometimes extremely closely both their immediate and more distant predecessors) and theological (in that the subjects depicted had to conform to what was accepted and approved by the Church, more especially so after the mid-sixteenth- century Catholic Reformation). Partly because such rich archives survive in Spain, and because of the traditions of art history going back ultimately to Vasari (exemplified in Spain by the Dictionary of Artists produced in 1800 by J. A. Cean Bermudez),4 most studies of post- Renaissance Spanish sculpture tend to concentrate on named artists and attributions; this essay will aim to approach the subject from a slightly different angle, while nevertheless inevitably building on the large volume of scholarship that exists to date. 5 Broadly, the four types of repetition to be discussed here are: first, the same composition (The Pieta in terracotta by Juan de Juni) more or less exactly copied by means of a mould; second, elements that could be adapted and re-used for different compositions within one workshop (that of Luisa Roldan), again using moulds; third, one image of great significance for devotional purposes (the Virgin of Sorrows) produced in only slightly different forms by a number of artists over a century; and fourth, the miraculous image of a saint (St Francis of Assisi) depending from one of two prototypes by the seventeenth-century sculptor Pedro de Mena, repeated in both painting and sculpture for over two centuries.

in both painting and sculpture for over two centuries. TERRACOTTA: THE WORKSHOP OF JUAN DE JUNI
in both painting and sculpture for over two centuries. TERRACOTTA: THE WORKSHOP OF JUAN DE JUNI


Certain materials lend themselves to reproduction from moulds. In Spain the most commonly surviving such material is terracotta. A small polychromed terracotta relief of the Pieta was acquired in Madrid in 1863 by the Victoria and Albert Museum (then the South Kensington Museum).6 The relief is mounted in a painted and gilt-wood frame, decorated in gold with a Latin inscription? The original surface would have been somewhat brighter than the present appearance of the relief suggests, since the terracotta has been overpainted. 8 Three other close variants of this work are known: one in the Cathedral Museum (Museo Diocesano y Catedralicio) in Valladolid, another in the Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueol6gico Provincial) in Leen and a third in the Camen Aznar Collection (Instituto y Museo) in Zaragoza. 9 With the exception of the Camen Aznar relief, they are virtually identical in size. IQ Who originated the design for these four reliefs, and how do they

Aznar relief, they are virtually identical in size. IQ Who originated the design for these four


MAR/ORIE TRUSTED Juan de Juni, Pieta, c. 1540, painted terracotta in painted and gilt-wood frame. Victoria
MAR/ORIE TRUSTED Juan de Juni, Pieta, c. 1540, painted terracotta in painted and gilt-wood frame. Victoria

Juan de Juni, Pieta, c. 1540, painted terracotta in painted and gilt-wood frame. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

relate to one another? In answer to the first question, the figurative style points to Juan de ]uni (c. 1507(7), one of the leading sculptors active in Castile in the mid-sixteenth century, who probably came originally from ]oigny in Burgundy but who apparently spent all his working life in Spain!! The composition is of extraordinarily high quality, its mannerist nerviosidad (literally 'nervousness', expressing the energetic movement of his compositions) typical of ]uni's work. Comparable pieces associated with ]uni include a Pieta group attributed to him in the Museo Federico Mares, Barcelona,12. and a polychromed stone relief of the Pieta in the Cathedral at Salamanca forming part of the tomb of Gutierre de Castro, dating from about 1540, and convincingly ascribed to ]uni on both circumstantial and stylistic evidence. 13 These pieces display similar features to the Pieta reliefs: elongated, contorted bodies, thick, flowing folds of drapery and comparable facial types for Christ and the Virgin. The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the conception of the terracotta.

The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the
The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the
The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the
The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the
The date of the tomb in Salamanca also gives an approximate date of 1540 for the

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 49 Juan de Juni, Pieta, c . I540 ,
Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 49 Juan de Juni, Pieta, c . I540 ,

Juan de Juni, Pieta, c. I540, painted stone relief (part of the tomb of Gutierre de Castro). Salamanca Cathedral.



If the conception is Juan de Juni's, the question of the relationship between the four Pieta reliefs (in London, Valladolid, Leon and Zaragoza) remains. There are apparently two relatively early verbal allusions to the composition. The first, in the early seventeenth century, dates from just over seventy years after it was probably designed. This is the 1613 inventory of the possessions of Juana Mardnez, the widow of

Juan de Juni's illegitimate son, Isaac de Juni, himself a sculptor. One of the items listed was 'clay image in relief of the Descent from the Cross'. I4 Although this is not a certain allusion to the composition, it is likely to be so, being a relief in the same material and of the same subject in the possession of the next generation of Juan de Juni's family. If it is an allusion to the composition, it remains unclear which (if any) of the surviving versions this was, as will be discussed below. Almost exactly one hundred years later, the eighteenth-century Spanish painter and writer Antonio Palomino recorded in 1714: 'In the church of St Martin in this city [Valladolid] there is a little scene in terracotta of the Descent from the Cross, of which a number of sculptors have made casts, so that it is a widely travelled image'.I5 It has been noted that the example formerly in the church of St Martin in Valladolid (as seen by Palomino) is the version now in the Cathedral Museum in Valladolid, and that this therefore could be the version mentioned in the inventory of Juana Martlnez, who lived in Valladolid. I6 For this reason it has been suggested that the version in Valladolid was the original and the others replicas. On the basis of Palomino's comments that other sculptors made casts of the Valladolid relief, the other versions have been considered early copies, which should be treated neither as 'original de Juni' nor as fakes. I7 It is interesting to note that when the London relief was acquired, the curator at the South Kensington Museum, John Charles Robinson, described it as 'School

of Valladolid (?)

interpretations of the surviving versions, partly based on Palomino, seem plausible, but it is also possible that Palomino, writing over 130 years after Juni's death, was misinformed, or misinterpreted what he saw. The implication of his statement is that there is one original (possibly the one in Valladolid) modelled by Juan de Juni himself. Other versions, while still early, dating from the sixteenth century and possibly the seventeenth too, were cast from the original by other artists. They were not intended to deceive but were replicas. However, it seems probable that the composition was always intended to be reproduced in multiples. The appearance of the known surviving pieces suggests they are likely to be

of the known surviving pieces suggests they are likely to be probably by a pupil of

probably by a pupil of Juan de Juni'. 18 These

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


contemporary with one another, whereas the theory that copies were made by other artists implies that one is earlier and that the others were made at a slightly later date, perhaps after Juan de Juni's death in 1577. I9 Yet there is no perceptible difference in the definition of the forms in these four versions, although the polychromy varies in quality and is much damaged in the Valladolid, Lean and Zaragoza examples. The Valladolid, Lean and London pieces are all of the same size; the Caman Aznar version in Zaragoza appears to be cut down and is consequently 5cm smaller in both height and width. 20 It is almost certain that all known versions are cast and not modelled, although it seems that the casts were not made identically, which may imply that they were not necessarily all carried out at the same time. 2I The reliefs seem to have been made for display, rather than for study. This can be assumed from the fact that contemporary polychromy seems to have survived on all of them at least in part, and that wood frames are extant on all but the Valladolid version. The wood frame of the London relief, with its gold- painted inscription, is analogous to the frame of the version in Lean, which also has an early inscription (although a different one), and to that of the one in the Caman Aznar Collection, which has a wood frame painted to imitate marble. These features imply that the four surviving versions should be accorded equal status, no one of them necessarily being closer to or further from the work of the sculptor than any of the others. Having made an 'original' in clay, which was probably then fired in order to harden it, Juan de Juni could have had made in his workshop a mould of this, from which were cast numerous copies. These were then painted, framed and sold. They would have been comparatively small devotional images, suitable for a domestic setting. The relief mentioned in the 1613 inventory if it is related to the present pieces - may be a fifth version that has been subsequently lost, or it may be identical to any of the other surviving examples. In addition to these four versions, there is a smaller variant of the composition, also probably dating from the sixteenth century, although of poor quality, and with the same composition laterally inverted; this is in the National Museum of Sculpture in ValladoHd.2.2 The reduced size and lateral inversion may imply that it was taken from an engraved version of the composition, rather than being derived from Juni's original mould, although no such engraving is known to have survived, and it could have been made from a now lost inferior copy, perhaps even pirated from Juni's workshop by a rival. As such, it is evidence of the continuing popularity of the composition, and a


copy indirectly to be associated with the work of Juni, rather than a multiple produced in his workshop. Unfortunately no other evidence is known regarding how Juan de Juni sold uncommissioned sculptures, for example whether he retailed them or displayed them in his workshop. But the surviving versions of this composition, roughly all contemporary with one another and emanating from his workshop (with the possible exception of the inferior version now in the National Museum of Sculpture), imply that Juni produced multiples to sell, probably relatively cheaply, to private customers, and that this made sense economically.


Economic reasons also influenced the running of the workshop of a Spanish sculptor working at the end of the seventeenth century. Luisa Roldan (r652-r706), known as La Roldana, was the daughter of the Sevillian sculptor Pedro Roldan (r624-99), and trained under him before setting up her own workshop as an independent sculptor, her husband

Luis Antonio de los Arcos (d. r702/3) acting as polychromist. 23 There was a strong tradition of terracotta sculpture in Seville going back to the fifteenth century, and although Luisa Roldan also worked in wood, her terracotta pieces are most characteristic of her style, and prefigure the Rococo porcelain groups produced in the eighteenth century. She moved to Madrid in about r688 to petition for the post of court sculptor, which was finally granted in r692. Most of her small-scale terracotta groups are thought to date from r688 onwards. One of these, a painted and partially gilt terracotta figure group of the Virgin and Child Appearing to St Diego

of Alcala, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. 24

The Virgin and Child

are shown presenting the cross to a kneeling Franciscan saint, accompanied by two angels, one kneeling, one standing. Six cherubim

nestle around the Virgin's feet. All the figures except the saint rest on clouds, indicating that this is an ecstatic vision experienced by the saint. 25 St Diego of Alcala stole bread from his monastery to give to the poor, but was discovered, at which point the bread miraculously turned into

flowers; the petals can be seen in the folds of his habit. The group was acquired for the Museum in Madrid in r863, and was originally simply called 'Spanish, seventeenth century';2 7 the reasons for the subsequent

attribution to Luisa Roldan are stylistic. One of her signed groups in the collection of the Hispanic Society of New York is remarkably close to the present one. This is the Mystical


Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 53 Luisa Roldan, Virgin and Child Appearing to St

Luisa Roldan, Virgin and Child Appearing to St Diego of Alcala, c. 16~1700, painted terracotta on a painted and gilt wood base. Vic[Qria and Albert Museum, London.

and gilt wood base. Vic[Qria and Albert Museum, London. Luisa Roldan, Mystical Marriage of St Catherine.
and gilt wood base. Vic[Qria and Albert Museum, London. Luisa Roldan, Mystical Marriage of St Catherine.

Luisa Roldan, Mystical Marriage of St Catherine. c. 1690-1700, painted terracotta. Hispanic Society of America, New York.



Marriage of St Catherine, in which the composition and facial features of the individual figures, notably the figures of the Virgin and the angel on the Virgin's right in each group, are extraordinarily close. 28 Because of these similarities and the nature of the material it is conceivable that Roldan used moulds to repeat certain figures in her groups. In order to test out this hypothesis, measurements of both groups and separate elements from each (the faces of the Virgin and of the kneeling angel)

were taken. Unfortunately the results were inconclusive, as the measurements, which were anyway done by hand and taken at different times on both sides of the Atlantic, were close but not identica1. 29 In addition, different rates of shrinkage during firing and the possibility that the clay may have been worked up when it was still in a leather-hard state could also account for slight discrepancies. It is, however, striking that closely similar figures of the Virgin and Child and of the kneeling angel recur in other Roldan groups, such as her two versions of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, one dated 1691 in the collection of the Condesa de Ruisefiada in San Sebastian, and another in the Hispanic Society in

New York. 30 Even within the present group,

are repeated forms. Recent examination of the underside of the New York Mystical Marriage of St Catherine revealed that the whole group consisted of separate elements (each usually of one figure) fitted together, presumably before firing. Straw was also visible, almost certainly used to bind the clay.3 1

Although it has not been possible to prove the theory, it seems highly probable that Roldan's workshop, organized around the production of these closely similar small-scale groups, almost certainly intended for domestic settings, depended on a high proportion of delegated work:

Roldan presumably designed the compositions of the groups and made the initial figures; she could then multiply the images used by having moulds made, so that they could be adapted for various groups, depicting entirely different subjects. Even if certain elements were not actually cast from moulds, the undeniable repetition of forms in her pieces suggests a streamlined way of organizing her workshop. This may have been partly for iconographic or devotional reasons; for example, it might have been thought desirable that images of the Virgin be similar, if not identical. But perhaps the primary reason was economic: so that she could run an efficient workshop, which produced large numbers of such works; a contemporary letter from the sculptor refers to a list of eighty works she had produced over the previous ten years. 32

the heads of the cherubim

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries



There are other repeated images in Spanish sculpture that cannot have been made simply because it was cheaper to do so. One of the most widely disseminated and popular images of the seventeenth century was that of the Virgin of Sorrows, the Virgen Dolorosa or Virgen de la Soledad. In sculpture the subject of the mourning Virgin could be in the form of a bust or a half-length figure, more rarely as a full-length figure, sometimes an imagen de vestir, an image to be dressed. Often a bust or a half-length figure of Christ as Man of Sorrows is accompanied by a comparable image of the Virgin, such as Pedro de Mena's pair of busts in the Convento de las MM. Concepcionistas, Zamora. 33 The depiction in the form of a bust may well partly derive from Netherlandish painting of the fifteenth century, exemplified by the work of Dieric Bouts (c. 1420- 75) and his son Albert Bouts (c. 1460-1549), perhaps transmitted through engravings. 34 Towards the end of the fifteenth century Spanish paintings of the subject appeared, such as the work of Paolo da San Leocadio (1447-1519).35 Another probable source is the reliquary bust, the associations of which, containing as they did physical relics of the saints depicted, must have added to the already powerful verisimilitude to be seen in the painted wood busts of the Virgin and Christ. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a particularly fine painted wood version of the Virgin of Sorrows, acquired in 1871, and at that date attributed to the Sevillian sculptor Juan Mardnez Montafies (1568- 1649).36 This ascription was overthrown in 1950 when Xavier de Salas, then Director of the Spanish Institute in London, claimed that the bust

could not be by him, but was 'possibly by Pedro de Mena who was

pupil of Alonso Cano. Cano himself was

Many sculpted versions of this subject are known, most of them from Andalusia, in particular Granada, including works attributed to the two brothers Jer6nimo Francisco and Miguel Jer6nimo Garda (the Hermanos Garda),3 8 and Jose Risuefio (1665-1732).39 The Andalusian sculptor Pedro de Mena (1628-88), mentioned above, who had worked with the painter and sculptor Alonso Cano (1601-67), was the most eminent of those artists known to have produced versions. He originated and refined the type most commonly produced in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and at least sixteen versions of the bust of the Mourning Virgin attributed to him survive. 40 From 1950 until recently the London bust was associated with this sculptor. The attribution to


a follower of Montafies' .37

until recently the London bust was associated with this sculptor. The attribution to a a follower


MARJORIE TRUSTED Jose de Mora (1642-1724), Virgin of Sorrows, painted wood. Victoria and Alben Museum, London.
MARJORIE TRUSTED Jose de Mora (1642-1724), Virgin of Sorrows, painted wood. Victoria and Alben Museum, London.

Jose de Mora (1642-1724), Virgin of Sorrows, painted wood. Victoria and Alben Museum, London.

Mena had been generally agreed, partly because it is understandably always tempting to ascribe an outstanding work of art to the most eminent name associated stylistically. Although there are clear similarities with works by Pedro de Mena - the virtuoso carving of the wood, the corkscrew ringlets and the naturalistically crumpled veil - the parallels are iconographic and technical. However, other contemporary and slightly later works by Andalusian sculptors also have some of these characteristics, such as a bust by Jose Risueno of about 1700--30 in the National Museum of Sculpture, ValladolidY Despite the high number of surviving busts by roughly contemporary sculptors in Andalusia, stylistic differences can be discerned. The Dolorosa in the Victoria and Albert Museum has some distinctive features: the morose downward glance, the aquiline nose, heavy-lidded eyes and full lips. These all suggest the work is by Jose de Mora (1642.-172.4), Pedro de Mena's younger contemporary, and also active in Granada. An analogous example by Jose de Mora is a Virgin and pendant bust of Christ in a private collection in Salamanca. 42 These closely similar versions of busts of the sorrowing Virgin are highly worked images made by independent sculptors, all successfully working in or around Granada at about the same time, the second half of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth century. Admittedly the

at about the same time, the second half of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth
at about the same time, the second half of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth
at about the same time, the second half of the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


subjects were standard icons, but they were codified by the artists concerned at the same time and in the same place. They are not identical, but contemporary variants of the same type. Although it is possible to distinguish different pieces stylistically, individual artists were producing repeated images, such as the sixteen surviving pieces associated with Pedro de Mena. Perhaps the considerable craftsmanship that went into the busts - which was clearly a continuing part of a thriving vernacular tradition of polychromed wood sculpture - was also a way of suggesting the devotional care taken by the artist, as well as the amount of money spent by the individual or institutional patron. The images were rich in spiritual meaning and power. When a full-length Soledad figure by Jose de Mora was installed in the Church of St Anne in Granada in 1671, a contemporary chronicler recorded that it was taken there at midnight, accompanied by a congregation of the devout holding torches, and that on this journey to the church the image performed a miracle, bringing back to health a woman gravely ill, as it passed by her house. 43

a woman gravely ill, as it passed by her house. 4 3 IMAGES OF THE MIRACULOUSLY


A fourth type of reproduction can be distinguished in Spanish sculpture:

the repetition of a miraculous image of a saint. One of the most renowned of such images was the figure of St Francis of Assisi in the form of a resurrected corpse, illustrating the legend of the miraculous preservation of his body over two centuries after his death. According


the legend, the saint was found standing up with open eyes gazing up


Heaven when his tomb in Assisi was opened by Nicholas V in 1449. 44

The event was first depicted in paintings and sculpture in the early seventeenth century,45 having been popularized in Spain by a number of publications of the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century, such as Pedro de Ribadeneira's Flos Sanctorum 0 Libro de las Vidas de Los Santos (Flower of Saints or Book of the Lives of the Saints), first published in Madrid in 1599. 46 The first sculpted interpretations of the subject seem to have been produced by Gregorio Fernandez (c. 1576- 1636); one, which had been dated to not later than 1620, is in the Royal Convent of the Discalced Nuns (Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales) in Valladolid. 47 This simple image, just over a metre high, is likely to have been the first depiction of this subject, the sallow face and uplifted eyes ringed in shadow reflecting the legend of the saint's life in death. The visible hands just reveal one of the stigmata, a detail that came to be typical of the Castilian interpretations of the subject later on in the


MARJORIE TRUSTED (left) Pedro de Mena, St Fratlcis, 1663, painted wood. Toledo Cathedral. (right) Anonymous, after
MARJORIE TRUSTED (left) Pedro de Mena, St Fratlcis, 1663, painted wood. Toledo Cathedral. (right) Anonymous, after

(left) Pedro de Mena, St Fratlcis, 1663, painted wood. Toledo Cathedral.

(right) Anonymous, after Pedro de Mcna, St Fratlcis, c. 1720-4°, painted wood. Vicroria and Albcrt Museum, London.

century. It is also an early instance of a free-standing statue of a saint as a devotional image, rather than an element in an altarpiece; this type of figure was to become widespread in Spain through the work of Alonso Ca no later on in the century. Fernandez's figure almost certainly predates the three paintings of the same subject by Francisco de Zurbaran (1598- 1664), which have been convincingly dated to about 1640--5.48 The image of the resurrected St Francis became more widely known following the two autograph sculptures of the subject produced by Pedro de Mena, one

Spanish Sculpture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


a relief for the choir-stalls in Malaga, dating from 1658 to 1662, and the other the figure in Toledo Cathedral, executed in 1663.49 The Toledo figure in particular was widely influential and must itself have been partly based on Fernandez's figure of over forty years before, although the hands are not visible and the cowl is deeper. Both it and the relief from Malaga, which also came to be used as a model for free-standing figures

by other sculptors,5 0 became exceedingly popular sources, and they were

adapted for sculptures all over Castile and Andalusia for the next century

and more. The many versions of the Toledo figure of St Francis superficially form

a coherent stylistic group and have generally been dated to the

seventeenth century, roughly contemporary with the original that inspired them. SI However, when examined more closely, their styles can be distinguished one from another, and it is clear that they are not simply replicas, but must be called variants. While they can virtually all

be traced back to one of the two types created by Pedro de Mena, each

exhibits differences from the others to a greater or lesser extent, in scale, facial expression and the fall of folds of the drapery. Few are either

inscribed or dated, but they are technically analogous to the figure in Toledo by Pedro de Mena. Often only a patient analysis of the style suggests a date, although sometimes this can only be approximate, owing

to lack of documentary or other evidence. Two exceptions to this are a

figure by Fernando Ortiz of Malaga in the National Museum of Sculpture, Valladolid, signed and dated 1738,52 and an anonymous one in the Convent of St Clare, Medina de Rloseco, Valladolid, dated 1732.53

The subject continued to be popular into the nineteenth century; at least


One example of an eighteenth-century variant is in the Victoria and Albert Museum;55 it is close iconographically to the autograph piece in Toledo, although it is only half the size. It was acquired for the Museum

by the curator, John Charles Robinson, in Madrid in 1865. He believed

the figure in Toledo to be by Cano (as did many of his contemporaries),

and called the piece acquired by the Museum a 'contemporary repetition

of a very famous statuette by Alonso Cano, preserved in the sacristy of

the Cathedral of Toledo'. 56 When first acquired it was dated to the seventeenth century and until recently this date has been accepted. However, the style of the carving, in particular the fall of the drapery, strongly implies it was made in the first half of the eighteenth century, perhaps nearly a hundred years after Pedro de Mena's image in Toledo. That prototype image has been reduced in size to a more portable and

That prototype image has been reduced in size to a more portable and versions are known

versions are known to date from that time. 54



domestic object. The same legend is being told (the miraculous posthumous image of the saint), and the statue created by Pedro de Mena is being deliberately evoked, although not directly copied, since clearly avoidable changes have been made, as in the fall of the drapery. This suggests a different meaning for the phrase 'stylistic influence' of an artist, and the chosen portrayal of the saint must be seen as bound up with the religious and miraculous nature of the image.

It is evident that there can be different motives for reproducing an image and various gradations in the meaning of the word 'reproduction' or 'variant'. In the first group of examples, it was argued that the sixteenth- century artist Juan de Juni's workshop (and probably a competitor) reproduced an image using a mould and decorated the finished versions differently, perhaps to suit different clients who had not commissioned these works but stipulated certain surface decoration after the terracotta had been cast. In Luisa Roldan's work the repeated forms and compositions seen in different groups imply how she ran her highly productive workshop, whether or not moulds were actually used. In the third group, a number of more or less contemporary artists in Granada all produced similar, although distinctive, versions of the Virgin (and of Christ); Pedro de Mena in particular, who seems to have perfected the type, produced a whose series of closely similar works on this theme. This no doubt fulfilled the demand for sacred images in Spain and reflected the piety prevalent throughout the peninsula at this time. In the last group, two particularly striking and closely related images of the miraculously preserved body of St Francis by Pedro de Mena, in Malaga and Toledo respectively, as well as the earlier figure by Gregorio Fernandez, were used and adapted by large numbers of artists for up to two hundred years after their creation. Like the third group of examples, the nature and intensity of religious devotion must have been one of the main reasons for these repeated forms.


The Ivory Multiplied: Small-scale Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


Since the publication of Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny's Taste and the Antique, the role played by three-dimensional reproductions of small- scale sculptures in disseminating the antique sculptural canon has become

a commonplace within histories of art. I Various studies of specific sculptors or centres of sculptural production have revealed how such sculptural reductions or multiple reproductions served to make more widely known both the works and the names of various Italian sculptors. 2 The new attention being given to the sculptural reproduction comes at a time when postmodern questioning of the notion of authorship has prompted a reconsideration of the relationship between the original, the multiple and the copy, and the very legitimacy of these terms. 3 These two developments provide a framework for the discussion here of the reproduction of small-scale sculpture in the eighteenth century. By examining reproductions of northern European sculpture executed on a

small scale in ivory - a class of art production that has been virtually ignored in the mainstream of art-historical literature - this essay attempts

to investigate ways in which sculptural reproduction could sometimes

operate differently from the practices used for the copying of the antique

or Italian Renaissance sculptural canon and looks at the implications of this for our understanding of originals, copies and authorship. From the sixteenth century onwards the repertory of antique and modern figure sculpture that comprised the canon for successive generations of artists and connoissuers was disseminated not only through prints and plaster casts but also through the small bronze. Forming an essential component of any courtly collection, and by the

eighteenth century figuring increasingly frequently as a decorative feature

of the bourgeois interior, the bronze statuette after the Apollo Belvedere

or Giambologna's Mercury was made widely available in casts by


MALCOLM BAKER The Firzwilliam Coin Cabiner. Early eigh t eenth century with late eighteenth century additions

The Firzwilliam Coin Cabiner. Early eighteenth century with late eighteenth century additions and a bronze Venus after Giambologna. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Soldani around 1700 or Zoffoli some eighty years later:' In some cases the compositions reproduced originated as small-scale bronzes and were from the start intended for multiple reproduction in bronze; this was certainly the case, for example, with Giambologna's figure of Architecture, a version of which (translated into a Venus) is placed on the top of the Fitzwilliam medal cabinet in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. 5 In many instances, however, such bronzes made available sculptures that were originally executed in marble on a far larger scale; in these cases, the multiple reproductions served as barh reductions and substitutes. The role that such reductions played in both providing models for artists in northern Europe and representing a canon of classical and ltalianate visual values is a familiar one. The Ashmolean Venus may at first sight seem to carry many of the associations and ambiguities of the small-scale sculptural reproduction. A version of rather later date after a composition by a major figure in European sculpture, it is here used decoratively, though prominently, so that we are unsure whether to view it as an independent sculpture or an

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


ornamental part of a sumptuous but nonetheless functional artefact. Similarly ambiguous is its status in relation to its author, for, while being highly finished, this piece is probably an early eighteenth-century cast of a seventeenth-century invention. Nonetheless, like many sculptural repro- ductions in bronze, this is not a reduction of a larger composition originally executed in another material but a replica of an invention intended from the start to be reproduced on this scale and in this material. While making more widely known the masterpieces of European sculpture, and celebrating and perpetuating the reputations of those who invented them, the small-scale sculptural reproduction also made it possible for such images to be used decoratively and appropriated in ways that diminished the status of both the artist and the original work. An early eighteenth-century cast by Soldani of a Giambologna figure could be used as an ornamental addition to a piece of furniture, as in the (albeit rather grand) case of the Fitzwilliam cabinet or that of the models that were taken over from the Soldani workshop by the Doccia factory and used to reproduce the same figures in porcelain in the mid-eighteenth century. 6 Although the Doccia inventory of the models in many cases records the names of the sculptors, these names were associated with the porcelain versions that resulted. A similar sequence of reproduction and adaptation, through which a highly esteemed sculpture becomes a decorative artefact, may be seen in the multiple production, in different sizes, of Canova's Italian Venus that are to be found in almost every garden centre, both subject and artist unacknowledged. While this diminution of meaning and status by the appropriation of sculptural compositions is sometimes discernible in the reproduction of Italian sculpture, the dissemination of most later reductions of works by Michelangelo or Giambologna served to sustain and reinforce their canonical status. Unsurprisingly, the majority of studies of this process has been concerned with the reproduction of antique sculpture or Italian Renaissance sculpture and focused more on the dissemination and reworking of this canon, rather than its disintegration through decorative reappropriation. Far less well known, however, are either the works of small-scale sculpture produced in materials other than bronze north of the Alps or the ways in which such works were themselves appropriated by reproduction. While perhaps a less central and less significant narrative within histories of art, this far less familiar set of interconnections is worth examining, not least because it throws into relief the sequence from large-scale 'masterpiece' to small-scale substitute and provides an alternative model for thinking about sculpture and its reproductions.


During the seventeenth century small-scale sculpture in ivory and boxwood - since then given the generic description of Kleinplastik, unsatisfactorily translated as 'small-scale sculpture' - occupied a significant place in the Kunstkammer, Wunderkammer, or 'cabinet of curiosities'.7 In the collection of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in the Palazzo Pitti, figurative works in ivory by sculptors better known for their larger figures in marble or stone, such as Balthasar Permoser, or sculptors specializing in ivory-carving, such as Francis van Bossuit, were placed alongside elaborately turned standing cups, one at least turned on the lathe by the Prince Ferdinando himself. 8 In the north, female nudes in boxwood by Leonhard Kern, in a distinctively 'northern' style, were prized at the Habsburg court and were illustrated, along with bronzes by Giambologna and paintings by both Italian and Flemish masters, in Franz von Stampart and Anton von Prenner's Podromus of 1735. 9 The status accorded to such works, and to the virtuosity that could be demonstrated in carving ivory, is evident from the lengthy poem written in 1680 by the Silesian poet Daniel Casper von Lohenstein about a single ivory tankard, Matthias Rauchmiller's elaborately carved vessel encircled by a Rape of the Sabines, which since 1707 has been in the Liechtenstein collection. 10 During the eighteenth century, however, attitudes towards ivory- carving and Kleinplastik in general began to shift, giving them an increasingly marginal position when academic norms increasingly favoured antique and Italianate values and privileged marble as an appropriate medium for sculpture. Although some ivory figures moved to the gallery, where they were placed in the company of sculpture in these materials, most such Kleinplastik lost its prominence with the dismantling of the Wunderkammer. In France such a shift is registered in the changing position of the ivory-carver in the Academie Royale de Peinture. In the I670S there seems to have been no difficulty in allowing Pierre Simon laillot, a sculptor working exclusively in ivory, to be an Academicien, even though a dispute with Le Brun led to his expulsion in I673.II No such carvers, however, were admitted in the eighteenth century and the sculpture to be seen in the Academie's own rooms, as

described by Nicolas Guerin in 1715, consisted almost

larger-scale works in terracotta, plaster and marble. I2 In Germany ivory-carvers continued to work for court patrons and in England a few carvers at least enjoyed popularity for their portrait reliefs of both noble sitters and an increasing number of bourgeois clients. While some carvers - Antonio Leoni in Diisseldorf, for instance - remained resident at the same court, many others had itinerant careers of

in Diisseldorf, for instance - remained resident at the same court, many others had itinerant careers
in Diisseldorf, for instance - remained resident at the same court, many others had itinerant careers



Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


a familiar type. Jacob Dobbermann, for example, was probably trained in Danzig, then spent some years in England, where he taught in Sir Godfrey Kneller's Academy, and eventually moved to the court of the Landgrave Carl von Hessen in Kassel, where he produced reliefs of

mythological subjects, based on mezzotints by the English engraver John

Smith. I3 A similarly varied itinerary was followed

who moved from Amsterdam to the Danish court at Copenhagen, via Gottorf. I4 But this view of ivory-carving as a highly valued court art should be balanced by consideration of the production of ivories by carvers working at Dieppe. While some (such as David Le Marchand) pursued itinerant careers of the type just described, most of the carvers were residents, and their main output was of small decorative objects, frequently depicting religious subjects and intended for devotional use. Such works were luxury commodities produced for a growing market. This development of consumerism and the strategies of marketing and production that it involved have been much discussed recently, as has the intersection of the history of consumer societies with the history of culture. I5 Situated in this framework the changing pattern evident in the production of small-scale sculpture and the shifting attitudes towards this class of sculpture may be viewed rather differently. At this point the multiple and the reproduction become more significant. Although the production of decorative ivory-carving from the Dieppe workshops may be understood as a continuation of a far earlier tradition of large-scale manufacture of relatively low-priced devotional images, it may also be seen in terms of a growing demand for luxury objects from a wider range of consumers with modest but increasing wealth. In this market novelty was used to stimulate consumption. This meant not only new designs but also new materials, including porcelain, which was to prove highly attractive to this growing range of consumers. During the period when sculpture in marble or bronze was increasingly privileged in the academy and in public spaces devoted to high art that reflected academic ideals, small-scale sculpture in ivory or boxwood was being supplanted by the porcelain figure or group. Although not necessarily less expensive than the carved ivory, the porcelain compositions were made by a process that involved moulds and allowed variations to be introduced in the assembling of the various component parts. More significantly, this process of casting with moulds made the production of multiple versions relatively easy. While of course many compositions were new inventions by specialist modellers working only for the porcelain factories, some at least were cast from existing figures in ivory.

by Joachim Henne,



When Permoser's figures of the Seasons were used in 1778 by the Furstenberg porcelain factory, established in 1753, the ivory originals were being used as the basis for another form of expensive luxury object, which retained associations with court and aristocratic culture, rather than for wares available as multiples in very large numbers to a wider audience. 16 Nonetheless, this process involved not only the erasure of the artist's name but also the appropriation of the ivory for decorative purposes. At about the same date ]osiah Wedgwood used wax casts taken from the portrait reliefs by another ivory-carver, David Le

from the portrait reliefs by another ivory-carver, David Le Carl Gottlieb Schubert, Summer, FOrslenberger porcelain

Carl Gottlieb Schubert, Summer, FOrslenberger porcelain figurine of 1778, after an ivory by Balthasar Permoser. Herzog-Anton-Ulrich·Museum, Braunschweig.

Marchand. 17 While the subjects in most (but not all) cases remained significant, the authorship of the originals was again forgotten. More importantly, despite Wedgwood's strategy of marketing (and pricing) his products so that they would seem superior to other Staffordshire ceramics, these reliefs were manufactured as multiples for consumers 'of the middling sort', even if these buyers were attracted by the much- vaunted claims that Wedgwood produced works of high quality for the nobility and gentry. In many ways these pieces were intended to make reference to antique objects of the sort that had long been considered collectable; the relationship between the white-figure relief and the jasperware ground thus recalls the contrast between figure and ground seen on engraved gems as well as the way in which ivories in England

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


(according to a French visitor in the 1760s) were set against black velvet. But this relationship between figure and ground also has much in common with that seen in cheaper, more popular forms of portrait such as the silhouette. I8 The use of ivory in reproductions during this period suggests that small-scale sculpture suffered a loss of status and significance as it became appropriated and adapted in other materials that could be readily reproduced and marketed to a wider range of potential consumers. While cheap, mass-produced replicas of devotional images had become commonplace by the late Middle Ages, a distinctive type of cabinet sculpture, made to be handled and examined closely, was here being reproduced as a multiple luxury object for a consumer culture. Implicit in the operation of such processes of reproduction and translation between media were assumptions about both the associations and values of particular materials and the procedures of making and reproducing sculpture. While never cheap, ivory could be differently valued and its associations were ambivalent. On the one hand, it might be widely used for knife handles, snuff rasps or dials, yet, on the other, both the courtly fashion for ivory-turning and the high esteem in which small-scale carvings had earlier been held in courtly collections still gave it artistocratic connotations. Porcelain likewise had courtly associations. Already anticipated by the isolated attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain for the Medici in the sixteenth century, the making of porcelain in the West began with the highly fired stoneware and soft-paste porcelain pioneered by the alchemist B6ttger for Augustus the Strong of Saxony in the second decade of the eighteenth century. Like the Meissen factory that grew from this, many of the factories that swiftly followed elsewhere in Europe were established under direct court patronage and control, among them Saint-Cloud in France and Capodimonte in Naples. The light-reflecting qualities of porcelain, its aristocratic associations, the closely protected secret of its manufacture and the sheer novelty of being able to produce European compositions in a material hitherto only imported from the East initially meant that, simply as a medium, porcelain was especially highly regarded, almost regardless of what the figures represented or how they were composed. Its distinctive qualities- whether the nature of the ceramic 'body' or the enamelled painted decoration - continued to be admired, but as it became more familiar and more widely available, more attention was paid to the qualities of composition, modelling and decoration.



The different techniques used in the making of ivories and porcelain figures also had different, and changing, associations. Underlying the appeal of the ivory figure in the seventeenth century was the way in which such carvings illustrated the relationship between the natural and the man-made, so central a theme in the Wunderkammer. By his virtuosity in carving the section from an ivory tusk, the carver was transforming a natural material into art - a process vividly represented by a carving in Vienna (and illustrated in the Podromus), which consists

of a figure of Abundance carved out of a tusk, the lower part being left

intact. 19 Here the virtuosity of the carving was more important than

invention involved in the composition. During the next century, however, with the reformulation of art theory and a reconfiguration of the hierarchies articulated in the 'art cabinet', this relationship was to be reversed and the process of carving ivory became less something to be admired and wondered at in its own right, just as the process of modelling, as was seen in terracotta, for example, became more highly valued, the sketch allowing a direct experience of the artist's invention on the part of the viewer. 20 The other principal process involved in the making of sculpture, along with modelling and carving, was casting and this was the technique most commonly involved in the production of multiples and the reproduction of carved or modelled figures. For early eighteenth-century viewers of porcelain figures, the intrinsic qualities of the material were emphasized, while the fact that their production involved casting was largely ignored, and the status of the porcelain figures as multiples played down. Only later in the eighteenth century was the reproductive nature of these works more evident and the potential that casting provided for the large-scale production of the same composition more openly acknowledged. This outline of the changing perceptions of the relationships between the various sculptural processes, between different materials and between the single work and the multiple provides a framework in which one particularly intriguing case of the ivory and its reproductions - that of Francis van Bossuit and his ]udith reliefs - may be considered. Unlike sculptors specializing in Kleinplastik, such as Kern, Henne or Dobbermann, Francis van Bossuit does not seem to have worked for any particular court. According to a brief biographical account published in Matthys Pool's Art's Cabinet in 1727, he was born in Brussels and then spent many years in Italy, returning north to Amsterdam where he died in 1692.21 Although he appears to have worked alongside the young Balthasar Permoser in the circle of artists associated with the Florentine


Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


Academy in Rome in the 1670S, the works thought to have been executed by him during this period have been attributed largely on stylistic grounds. 22 A reasonably coherent and detailed view of his later produc- tion, most of it probably from his Amsterdam period, may be formed from both a substantial number of surviving pieces that correspond to ivories shown in prints published in Pool's book and others that may be associated with these through their composition and facture. Although some of the works illustrated by Pool were in terracotta and boxwood, the majority were executed in ivory, many of them in low relief. Some are of biblical or mythological subjects but the largest number consists of half-length reliefs of single figures such as David or Cleopatra. Images of famous women figure particularly prominently. Drawing on a long-established tradition of series of donne famosi, these reliefs frequently employ similar formats, based on painted half-lengths of the types produced by Guido Reni. Whereas the history subjects are almost always unique, these half-length reliefs, though equally finely carved, are closely related to each other, so that poses used for Cleopatra reappear in images of, for example, Flora and Judith. Together they suggest that Bossuit was working and reworking formulae so as to produce a distinctive class of small-scale sculpture for which there was apparently a continuing demand. None of Bossuit's female subjects seems to have been more popular than that of ]udith with the Head of Holofernes and no fewer than five different variants may be plausibly attributed to him. 23 Each is distinct, indicating that, even when there was a demand for a particular subject, Bossuit was not meeting this by producing multiple versions. A range of reproductions and adaptations in various materials were, however, made after one of the ]udith reliefs, apparently in the early eighteenth century and so after the sculptor's death. The ivory reproduced in this way, now in Edinburgh, is characteristic of Bossuit's work not only in its composition but also above all in the way in which the figure is carved in low relief, with the delicately carved, fluttering draperies apparently merging with the ground in a series of subtly judged gradations of plane. In marked contrast with the reliefs by most of his contemporaries, with their sharply carved edges and deep undercutting, Bossuit's work has a softness that prompted the author of the biographical sketch in the 1728 book to note admiringly that 'he by his Ingenious, & free manner, of manageing the Hard Ivory, Could work upon it as if it were wax'. No fewer than five of the copies based on the Edinburgh ]udith are in ivory, two - in Schwerin and Strasbourg bearing initials probably to be



7 ° MALCOLM BAKER (left) Francis van Bossuit, judith with the Head of HoJofernes, c. 1680'-90,

(left) Francis van Bossuit, judith with the Head of HoJofernes, c. 1680'-90, ivoty. Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

(right) Paul Heermann (after Francis van Bossuit), judith with the Head of HoJofernes, c. 172.0, ivory. Staatliches Museum, Schwerin.

c. 172.0, ivory. Staatliches Museum, Schwerin. (left) C.B. Rauschner (after Francis van Bossuit), judith
c. 172.0, ivory. Staatliches Museum, Schwerin. (left) C.B. Rauschner (after Francis van Bossuit), judith

(left) C.B. Rauschner (after Francis van Bossuit), judith with the Head of HoJofernes, c. 1750, wax. Herzog-Anton-Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig.

(right) judith with the Head of HoJofernes, c. 1714, Banger stoneware, Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin.

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


identified with the Dresden sculptor Paul Heermann, who may have carved two of the others. 24 Two further versions - in Hanover and Braunschweig - are in wax. But the largest number of replicas - six of which are known - are in Bottger stoneware, the immediate precursor of the porcelain produced at Meissen. Together these form an unusually large group of reproductions. What was the relationship between them and what can be said about the circumstances of their production, the status of the versions in different materials and the way in which these were viewed in the early eighteenth century? Comparison of the Edinburgh ivory with one of the Bottger stoneware versions establishes that the ceramic versions were produced from a mould taken directly from this relief by Bossuit. Since the other sources used by Bottger were available locally, it can be assumed' that the Edinburgh ivory too was in Dresden around 1712.25 It may also have been accessible there to Paul Heermann, an assistant of Permoser and a prolific ivory-carver in his own right, who probably carved four of the other ivory versions of the ]udith. Here the reproductions were not strictly speaking multiples for they were not only individually carved, rather than cast, but also show considerable small differences. While copying Bossuit's original and disseminating the image in a way that the earlier carver did not do himself, these carved reliefs remain variants rather multiple reproductions. By contrast, the ceramic versions were made with moulds, reproducing, with an overall shrinkage and the loss of subtlety in the details, the dimensions of the original. The most prominent part of the relief - the head - had in each case to be reworked a little. Far more of a multiple reproduction than Heermann's ivories, each of the Bottger reliefs involved a loss of the original's features through the process of casting, rather than its alteration because it was being copied by a different carver. This may seem unsurprising, given the role of casting in the reproduction of sculpture, but at this point an ambiguity arises that challenges our reading of the sequences outlined here, whether from ivory to ivory, from ivory to ceramic or from carving to casting. As well as varying certain features, such as the set of the head, the pommel of the sword or the decoration of the diadem, Heermann's ivory versions also, and perhaps significantly, omit particular details - the lower fold of the wind-blown headdress, for instance - that had been lost in the casting of the Bottger reliefs. Such details are clearly missing from some of the apparently later ivory versions, such as that in Vienna, but their omission in the Heermann ivories hints at the possibility that all the


ivories were based not on Bossuit's original relief but on the ceramic versions or plaster casts after the ivory, rather as paintings drew on prints after paintings. The same process may have been involved in the production of the two waxes. Here, however, the technique of casting and moulds could be employed. This is most evident in the Hanover wax, which reproduces not only the precise details of the folds on ceramic relief but also the form


by Rauschner when he made the Braunschweig version. But in this case Bossuit's composition, via the ceramic version, was embellished with many additional decorative details and set against a painted background and so translated into a far more pictorial composition. Whatever the relationship between Bossuit's reliefs, the Battger versions, the waxes and the various ivories by Heermann and others may be, the process of dissemination of the image seems to have involved

a diminution, a loss of significance, at least as far as authorship of the original was concerned. The presence of Heermann's initials on two of the ivories of course represent a claim to authorship (if not to invention) and an indication that these reliefs were not intended to be regarded as inferior reproductions because the sculptor (like numerous other artists)

had appropriated an earlier composition. (His early eighteenth-century patrons may not indeed have been aware of this.) In the case of Rauschner's wax, Bossuit's original composition has likewise been reworked for the ends of another sculptor and given a distinctive quality. However, despite the claim made by the presence of the artist's initials, Heermann's ivories were closely similar versions based on an original that was conceived as a single and unique work. Here, and even more so in the Battger versions, the dissemination of Bossuit's relief required

abandoning a connection with his name and the use of his composition for multiple reproduction, albeit in forms and materials that still enjoyed high status as luxury decorative objects.

A rather different perspective on the reproduction of Bossuit's

sculptures is, however, offered by the way in which they are were disseminated not by sculptural but by graphic reproduction. Reproduced in two dimensions in the book of prints by Pool, published in Amsterdam in 1727, Bossuit's reliefs are represented and 'framed' in a way that encouraged them, as well as Bossuit's standing as an artist, to be read in a very different way. The book was published with two title-pages, one in French and the other in Dutch and English, the latter reading Statue's or Art's Cabinet,

the ledge below the figure. The casting process was probably also used

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


Containing the Ivory works of that famous Statuary Francis van

Bossuit J and Curiously Ingraven in Copper J According to the draught of Barent Graat. By Matthew Pool. Dedicated to the patrician Amsterdam collector 1erome Tonnemans, it consists of 107 single-sided pages, printed from engraved plates, beginning with the dedication to Tonnemans, followed by portraits of Bossuit and Graat and short accounts of both of them in the three languages. The rest of the volume is made up of no fewer than 103 views of Bossuit's sculptures, mainly ivory figures and reliefs but with some terracottas and boxwoods. Many of these pieces are shown from two or more different viewpoints, some images being juxtaposed on the same page but many occupying separate sheets. Apparently conceived by the engraver Pool who made use of the drawings of his father-in-law, Graat, this publication, its origins and intended audience are intriguingly ambiguous. Its production in the late

1720S, however, would appear to be linked to the esteem in which Bossuit's work was held in Amsterdam at this date, registered by the descriptions in a series of auction sale catalogues as well as by the prices they fetched. While Pool's publication seems to celebrate Graat almost as much as Bossuit, the reader/viewer is left in no doubt as to Bossuit's

the reader/viewer is left in no doubt as to Bossuit's ac Ievement an reputatIon. But although

ac Ievement an reputatIon.

But although the distinctive qualities of Bossuit's ivories may be stressed in the text, the engravings prompt a rather different mode of viewing. Reliefs inevitably lose their sculptural features and seem almost to revert to the types of painting that formed Bossuit's starting point. More tellingly, single figures are placed among clouds and are shown from below so that they resemble details of ceiling paintings in the manner of Gerard de Lairesse, on whom Graat based his own style. The three-dimensionality of the original is consistently denied. In this way, Bossuit is praised in the text for his skill in modelling and carving but the engravings that follow present his compositions in pictorial, rather than

sculptural, terms. The reproduction of the ]udith reliefs in ivory, wax and ceramics suggests the translation of a type of sculpture that had been prominent in the Wunderkammer into a decorative luxury commodity that could be made available in replicas or multiple versions. In Pool's prints, by contrast, these small-scale reliefs are reproduced in a medium that not only obscures - even denies - the size of the originals but also by giving them backgrounds transforms the composition into images that are more pictorial than their reproduction in prints need be. Far from being made into decorative objects, they are presented here, as the title page alone





need be. Far from being made into decorative objects, they are presented here, as the title



7 4 MALCOLM BAKER Engraving of a figure by Francis van Bossuit, from Matthys Pool, Beelsniiders

Engraving of a figure by Francis van Bossuit, from Matthys Pool,

Beelsniiders Kunstcabinet (Amsterdam, I7L7).

affirms, as art, with the artist's name emphasized and celebrated. This same trajectory may be followed if Bossuit's works are tracked through sale catalogues of around 1700, a few early references locating them among rarities of various sorts within the 'cabinet of curiosities', followed by sales of the late 1720S where they are classified along with painting and sculpture in marble. L7 Perhaps ironically, Pool's book illustrates many reliefs of half-length female figures, including several ]udiths, bur the relief that was most often reproduced in ivory, wax and ceramic forms is not shown, perhaps because it was already in Dresden or at least not available in Amsterdam for Graat to draw. Further evidence about the later reception of Bossuit's work in the mid-eighteenth century, however, involves once again this particular composition, albeit in a modified form. This version was evidently based ultimately on the Edinburgh relief but lacks the fluttering drapery to the right of the head and shows Holofernes' head turned in a different direction. It is framed, along with other ivory reliefs, and placed in the centre of the left door of a cabinet made for Horace Walpole about 1743. The context in which it is placed and Walpole's own description,

of a cabinet made for Horace Walpole about 1743. The context in which it is placed

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century 75 The Walpole Cabinet, with an ivory of ]udith


suggest that the reproduction of Bossuit's ]udith now enjoyed a new interpretation. The cabinet was made to contain Walpole's collection of English miniatures, including examples by Holbein and Isaac Oliver. 28 Placed centrally in the Tribuna at Strawberry Hill, it housed those works that, for Walpole, formed an important stage in the development of art in England, which he was later to document and celebrate in his Anecdotes of Painting in England. The iconography of the exterior was intended to complement the contents by representing both the canonical works of antique sculpture and the figures of Palladio, Duquesnoy and Inigo ]ones, whose works were to form a touchstone and inspiration for English artists of his own period. The former were shown by ivory reliefs after the antique by Pozzo and the latter by reductions by the ivory- carver Verskovis after figures by Michael Rysbrack. In this way the imagery of the exterior established the standards by which the achievements of English art contained within could be judged and would be seen to equal. But how was the reproduction of Bossuit's ]udith to be accommodated within this narrative of art in England? As far as Walpole was concerned, this was not a work by (or after) Bossuit but rather an image of 'Herodias with the head of the Baptist, by Gibbons', the Anglo-Flemish seventeenth-century sculptor Grinling Gibbons being included in Anecdotes of Painting. It was thus presented here as a work of modern English sculpture, which could be placed alongside the reproduction of a highly esteemed work of antique sculpture, the relief from the Capitoline that occupies the centre of the other door. In this case a reproduction has been invested with the authority of an original, and given an 'author-effect' in the way that happened when copies were regarded as originals in the early literature of connoisseur- ship.2 9 Nevertheless, although for Walpole the ]udith relief was not a reproduction, it was included as part of a sculptural ensemble that consisted otherwise of reproductions of various types. While some of the reliefs after the antique were identified as by Pozzo, most were for Walpole by an unknown sculptor and significant more as reduced copies of celebrated antique marbles. The originals on which the figures of ]ones, Rubens and Palladio were based, on the other hand, were of course familiar to Walpole as being by Rysbrack, who was himself following drawings by William Kent who may indeed have designed the cabinet itself for Walpole. Far from being anonymous reductions of works whose significance was lost, these ivory versions, by a carver whom Walpole included in the Anecdotes, celebrate not only those artists

Sculpture and its Reproductions in the Eighteenth Century


that they represent but also the sculptor who executed the large-scale originals. The use on the Walpole cabinet of these various types of ivory reproduction, including a reproduction (albeit unrecognized) of an earlier ivory, is quite unlike the way in which not only the bronze Venus but also ivories were used as an addition to the Fitzwilliam Coin Cabinet. Here, probably at the same time as the bronze was added to the cabinet proper, a stand was made to support it and this was, like the Walpole cabinet, decorated with ivory reliefs, in this case representing heads of the Caesars. Here, however, neither the authorship of the ivories themselves nor the sources from which they were derived seems to have been of any concern; the images themselves were evidently regarded not as reproductions of antique works but rather as decorative features appropriate for such a piece of furniture because of their subjects. Although the sculptural reproduction (and in particular the ivory reproduction) was being used in rather different ways in these two cases, neither the Walpole cabinet nor the Fitzwilliam cabinet shows the small- scale sculpture and its reproductions employed wholly decoratively or without regard to subject or sculptural interest. By the late eighteenth century, however, ivory reliefs were being reproduced in forms and materials that effaced many, if not most, of the characteristics of the originals and obscured rather than celebrated the names and reputations of the authors of these originals. Here we see what Rosalind Krauss has

described as the 'atomization of the author into a social

which neither authorship nor originality have any function'.3 0 When in the 1770S James Tassie developed his technique of producing glass paste medallions, he not only made use of ivory reliefs by Le Marchand, as did his associate Wedgwood, but also he made reliefs that, while having many of the qualities of ivory, could be cast as multiples. 3I Although there is no evidence to suggest that the reproductions of Le Marchand's ivories by either Tassie or Wedgwood were produced on any large scale, their other compositions were increasingly being made and used to decorate furniture far less exceptional than either the Walpole or the Fitzwilliam cabinets. A century after being a highly valued item in the courtly Wunderkammer, the ivory had become available in a reproduced form to a far wider audience. The shift in the changing ways of reproducing ivories may also be seen in the increasing marginalization of small-scale sculpture during this same period. No longer did this class of sculpture merit a significant place within the hierarchies or canons of art as these were being formulated to

practice in


accord with academic norms during the eighteenth century. Since most of these works were by northern, rather than Italian, artists, this process of marginalization has been further encouraged by the Italianate bias of most art historiography and the dependence of connoisseurs and collectors on this. Despite the publication of Pool's book and, more importantly, the efforts of Houbraken and Van Gool Van Mander's successors as biographers of Dutch artists who discuss Graat and Bossuit, sculptors such as Bossuit had become almost completely forgotten by the end of the eighteenth century.32 Correspondingly, reproductions of ivory carvings by sculptors such as Bossuit, along with those made after other types of work by northern artists, came increasingly to serve a largely decorative function. If the reproduction of works by Italian sculptors often helped to celebrate their names and enhance their reputations by disseminating their inventions, for most northern artists, and particularly those sculptors of Kleinplastik, the reproduction of sculpture had very different consequences.

and particularly those sculptors of Kleinplastik, the reproduction of sculpture had very different consequences.


Naked Authority? Reproducing Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon


in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon MARTIN POSTLE The central focus of this essay

The central focus of this essay is the role that the reproduction of classical statuary played within the academy from the first studio academies of the 1670S to the school set up by Benjamin Robert Haydon in 1815 in opposition to the Royal Academy of Arts. During that period the reproduction of three-dimensional antique statuary in two- dimensional form was regarded as the bedrock of academic training. However, the authority of antique statuary within the academic framework, and the various processes of reproduction, gave rise to a series of conflicts. In the first instance, as we shall see most particularly with the example of William Hogarth, the academic reproduction of antique statuary resulted in arguments over the relative merits of 'original' antique statues and casts made from them. Second, there arose debates over the value of the inanimate classical statue versus the living model, and the authority of the antique as an embodiment of the 'ideal' as against the empirical testimony offered by anatomists. As the century progressed further, conflicts arose concerning the relative status of antique statuary, as the authority of more traditional models was chal- lenged by the appearance of new paradigms for academic reproduction notably the Greek sculptures from the Parthenon. Objections to the veracity of certain antique sculptures, in turn, resulted in the re- evaluation of methods and modes of reproduction, as artists realized that statues that they had been taught to reproduce and to revere were themselves mere reproductions of lost originals.

revere were themselves mere reproductions of lost originals. REPRODUCTION OF THE ANTIQUE IN THE RENAISSANCE During


During the Renaissance antique statuary recovered from the classical ruins of Rome, Florence, Naples and elsewhere assumed a central role in the cultural life of Western Europe. These statues included, notably, the



Apollo Belvedere, the Venus de' Medici, the Farnese Hercules and the

Laocoon. As their fame spread, the demand for their replication and reproduction grew rapidly, and by the end of the sixteenth century copies proliferated in the form of bronze and lead statuary, plaster casts,

cameos and engravings. I However,

as decorative features and pointers to fashionable taste, it was the role of antique sculpture as artistic and philosophical paradigms that under-

pinned their value as cultural icons. Indeed, from the foundation of the earliest academies in Rome in the sixteenth century, a nucleus of antique statues informed the study of the human figure. These statues were upheld as moral and philosophical exemplars not only for their intrinsic artistic merits but also because they were perceived as the most absolute physical manifestation of the abstract concept of ideal beauty.2 As a result, casts taken from these statues were increasingly made available in academies, Giovanni Battista Armenini recommending in 1586 that art students should draw regularly from a range of casts, including 'the Laocoon, the Hercules, the Apollo, the great Torso, the Venus and the Nile'.3 However, statues were principally reproduced via prints and drawings.

while they proved immensely popular


During the seventeenth century the central role played by reproductions of antique statues within the academic curriculum was enshrined increasingly in theoretical texts, which sought to assert their primacy

not merely on generalized aesthetic grounds but in terms of their physical properties. In the Conferences held by the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris during the 1660s the most famous examples of classical statuary were subjected to close analytical scrutiny.4 Here, the emphasis on the guiding spirit of the antique was supplanted by precise delineation. Classical statues were not simply reproduced in tonal drawings designed to replicate the three-dimensional form in two- dimensions. Instead they were deliberately reduced to 'flat plans', heads and limbs anatomized and measured in order to produce definitive rules


encouraged to study the antique but to defer to its absolute authority.

Indeed, as has been observed, 'with the ascendancy of the French academy, the antique came to be regarded as the definitive measure, in the literal sense of the word, of beauty and perfection'.6 It was in some measure because of the reverence reserved for antique statuary that the transition from three-dimensional object to two-

regulations. 5 In the French academy students were no longer merely

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon 81 dimensional representation within the

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon


dimensional representation within the academy became shrouded in an increasingly elaborate procedure and a certain degree of mystique. Indeed, from the sixteenth century onwards academic practice centred not only upon the copying of three-dimensional statuary but also on drawings and engravings made from them. There were two principal reasons for copying from two-dimensional reproductions of antique statuary: the first and most obvious was that the copying of prints allowed artists who did not have access to statues or casts to study them; second - and more significant in terms of the academic curriculum - copying taught students the 'correct' way in which to interpret the antique, in terms of the viewpoint, the treatment of line, tonal values and the figure's structure. In the sixteenth century engravings after antique statuary, such as Antonio Lafreri's Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae and Giovanni Battista de' Cavalieri's Antiquae Statuae Urbis Romae were intended primarily as anthologies of the most important classical works? Increasingly, however, they were also incorporated into drawing manuals, where they served as an essential component in a course of


they served as an essential component in a course of study.8 REPRODUCTION OF ANTIQUE STATUARY IN


Some of the earliest English academic drawings of the type promoted in continental academies are to be found in an album of drawings belonging to Dulwich College, which contains drawings made from living models and antique statuary in the studio of Sir Peter Lely.9 Among drawings after the antique are copies of the Farnese Hercules and the Apollo Belvedere. Although it was made in the 1670S, the drawing of the Apollo Belvedere shows the figure as it appeared before the restoration of its hands by Giovanni Montorsoli in the early 15 30S - indicating that it was not made from the statue or a cast but from an early engraving. 10 Similarly, the crude hatching technique employed in the Farnese Hercules suggests that it replicates a two-dimensional engraving rather than a statue. Significantly both copy-drawings reproduce the respective statues in reverse, as is the norm with engraved images. The replication of drawings and engravings after antique statuary continued to play an important role in art education in England in the eighteenth century at Sir Godfrey Kneller's Academy in Great Queen Street, the first St Martin's Lane Academy and Sir James Thornhill's Free Academy. II Among the most influential teachers during this period was the French artist Louis Cheron, who, before his arrival in England in 1695, had studied at the Academie Royale in Paris and the French


MARTIN POSTLE Anonymous drawing, c. 1673, of the Apollo BelIJedere , red chalk on buff paper,

Anonymous drawing, c. 1673, of the Apollo BelIJedere, red chalk on buff paper, folio 311. of Dulwich College Album (sketchbook MX xv). Dulwich College, London.

College Album (sketchbook MX xv). Dulwich College, London. Academy in Rome . As Ilaria Bignamini has

Academy in Rome . As Ilaria Bignamini has shown, Cheron's own drawings of the human figure, which were extensively copied by artists in the first St Martin's Lane Academy (which ran from 1720 to 1724), promoted a heroic and standardized rendering of the body, which ultimately relied on the authority of the antique - as interpreted, notably, by the Carracci and Raphael. 12 While not everyone approved of Cheron's drawing style (George Vertue described it as 'generally heavy'), by encouraging the replication of classical patterns of authority, he was instrumental in consolidating within the English academy the educational framework established by the French in Paris and Rome the previous



Cheron's standardized, heroic representation of the human form was not merely a stylistic preference. It related ultimately to modes of patronage and the art market in Europe, where there was a demand for large-scale

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon 83 historical and decorative schemes.

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon


historical and decorative schemes. The social, religious and economic conditions in England differed from those found in Catholic France or Italy. In England the portrait predominated; an art form which did not require close attention to the physical ideal enshrined in the antique. It was a reality recognized by William Hogarth, who took control of the reins of the second St Martin's Lane Academy in I735. Hogarth was also the first English artist to mount a challenge to the paradigmatic status of the antique, and its reproduction, within the academy. Hogarth had studied under Cheron at the first St Martin's Lane Academy. Yet he recoiled from Cheron's promotion of Continental models and patterns, and his own avowed preference for the face of a 'blooming young girl of fifteen' to the 'stony features of a venus' was in direct opposition to prevailing tenets. I4 Although he was not at heart a xenophobe, Hogarth distrusted the high premium placed on studying in Italy, claiming that 'going to study abroad is an errant farce and more likely to confound a true genious [sic] than to improve him'. IS Hogarth was also dismissive of the need to make two-dimensional reproductions from original antique statuary, asserting that for practical study purposes small-scale casts were preferable to the originals upon which they were based:

were preferable to the originals upon which they were based: the little casts of the gladiator

the little casts of the gladiator the Laocoon or the venus etc if true copies - are still better than the large as the parts are exactly the same [-] the eye [can] comprehend them with most ease and they are more handy to place and turn about. I6

Ultimately, however, he challenged the very need to make any sort of reproduction from antique statuary, both in his theoretical writings and in his conduct at the St Martin's Lane Academy. In the first plate of his Analysis of Beauty, published in I753, Hogarth depicted the statuary yard of John Cheere, who made a good living by supplying the English market with casts after the antique. I7 Included in Hogarth's engraving were casts of the Farnese Hercules, the Belvedere Antinous, the Venus de' Medici and the Belvedere Torso. The engraving was also an allusion to the statuary yard of the classical sculptor Clito, where Socrates was in the habit of expounding his ideas on beauty. I8 Around the central image is a series of visual references to Hogarth's own theories on 'beauty', which cumulatively demonstrate his contempt for the dry, formulaic approach to the figure of post-Renaissance treatises, which propounded propor- tional systems based on detailed analysis of antique forms. Hogarth's antipathy towards according a pedagogical role to the antique was


extreme. Nor was he the only English artist of his time who questioned the educational value of making reproductions from antique statuary. By the 1740S a number of those English artists who made the pilgrimage to Italy produced their own copy-drawings of antique statuary, the most notable being Richard Dalton's series of red chalk drawings of c. 1741-2, which followed the lead provided by Pompeo Batoni's 'paper museum' of drawings commissioned by an English connoisseur during the late 1720S.19 However, the very act of copying classical statues - from either full-sized figures or reduced reproductions - caused a greater awareness of their limitations as models. Giles Hussey (1710-88), who was in Italy between 1730 and 1737, made several drawings from the antique, including at least one of the Apollo Belvedere made with the aid of a camera obscura. 20 In 1745, Hussey, who had a close interest in academic theory, stated that he

found and discovered the Antient [sic] grecian Sculptors had no Rule or certain

regular proportions for human statue, parts, nor the whole-statue, this he said he

discovered at Rome and demonstrated the fact

Herculus - the Laocoon and his two sons, and the Gladiator tho' the most perfect statue of all, yet he thinks faulty, in proportions and in the possition, and muscles. 21

The scepticism expressed by Hogarth and Hussey over the physical shortcomings of the antique can be compared with the affirmative approach of the sculptor Michael Rysbrack, who in 1744 set out to create his own classical statue of Hercules for Henry Hoare's 'Temple of Hercules' at Stourhead, Wiltshire. According to Vertue, Rysbrack selected the Farnese Hercules as 'his rule of proportion - but to make his Model standing but in a different attitude & the limbs otherways disposed'. Once he had worked out the general proportions of the figure Rysbrack 'had the bodies of several other men stood naked before him in order to form the body, Limbs, arms legs &c to chuse the most beautyfull, or the most perfect parts'. 22 The process adopted by Rysbrack was a conscious emulation of the practice of Zeuxis, the Greek artist who according to Pliny recreated the figure of Helen from the bodies of the five most beautiful women in the city of Crotona, thus producing a concrete affirmation of Plato's abstract concept of the Ideal. Of course, Rysbrack's Hercules does not form an exact parallel with Zeuxis' figure of Helen, since he was responsible merely for the adaptation rather than the actual creation of an ideal type. Even so, it set an important precedent in English academic circles, for although it drew

The Antique statue of

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon 85 Michael Rysbrack, Hercules (study for the

Michael Rysbrack, Hercules (study for the Hercules in the Stourhead Panrheon), signed and dated 'Mich. Rysbrack 1744', rerracorra. Stourhead, Wiltshire .

inspiration from the Farnese Hercules, it was not a mere reproduction or, indeed, an imitation reliant on a superimposed series of quasi-scientific proportions. It deferred to the antique as a paradigm for heroic figurative statuary, while at the same time giving rein to the individual creative impulse of the artist. It was a balance that few artists of Rysbrack's generation were able to achieve. Indeed, by the end of the 1740s, with the increasing isolation of Hogarth from his fellow members of the Academy, the pendulum began to swing much more firmly in the direction of the antique as artists attempted to establish a more rigorous and didactic sysrem of art education.


By the mid-I750S Hogarth was increasingly isolated from the member- ship of the St Martin's Lane Academy, most of whom wished to establish a full-blown academy along Conrinentallines. However, it was not from within St Martin's Lane that the first initiative came, but from an obscure



Northamptonshire drawing master named William Shipley. In 1754 Shipley moved from Northampton to London, where he opened a drawing school. By the mid-eighteenth century there was a plethora of drawing masters educating sons and daughters of the gentry and aristocracy. There was also a host of drawing manuals offering correspondence courses in drawing, including the copying of antique statuary.2 3 Shipley, however, was principally concerned with the education of young people who aspired to work as professionals and who were shortly to embark on art-related apprenticeships. His con- fessed aim was not to train more artists but to train designers and craftsmen, to assist 'such manufactures as require Fancy and Ornament, and for which the knowledge of Drawing is absolutely necessary' .2 4 Students drew and copied from prints after the antique, after Old Master paintings and from sculpture, beginning with details - ears, nose, mouth - and then progressing towards the whole figure. In addition to his own school, in 1755 Shipley also advertised the 'Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce' through a competition for 'the best Drawings, by Boys and Girls, under the age of 14 years, and Proof of their abilities, on or before the 15 Jan. 1755'. The Royal Society of Arts - as it is now called - exists today, housed in the Adelphi, to which it moved in 1774. Shipley's own school was closely connected to the Society of Arts, his students competing for annual prizes in drawing offered there. From the beginning, the two- dimensional reproduction of antique statuary formed the climax of the curriculum at Shipley's School, even though resources were at first limited. However, in the spring of 1758, Shipley's pupils were given access to the Duke of Richmond's sculpture gallery in Whitehall, where they were able to make copies of full-scale casts of antique statues rather than the reduced copies on which they had hitherto relied. The Duke of Richmond's sculpture gallery, by bringing artists face to face with exact replicas of classical statues, played a crucial role in confirming the reproduction of antique statuary as a key activity within the English academy. Here, under the tutelage of Joseph Wilton and the Florentine decorative painter Giovanni Battista Cipriani, students were taught to produce refined and carefully wrought drawings, which were then submitted for premiums offered by the Society of Arts. As Benjamin Ralph observed in 1759, it was hoped that 'the study of these most exact copies from antiques may greatly contribute toward giving young beginners of genius an early taste and idea of beauty and proportion; which when thoroughly acquired will in time appear in their several

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon 87 William Parry, Borghese Gladiator, c. 1760,

William Parry, Borghese Gladiator, c. 1760, black chalk on paper, premium drawing. Royal Society of Arts, London.

performances' .2 5 A number of prize-winning drawings from the antique, made at the Duke of Richmond's sculpture gallery during the late 1750S and early 1760s, are preserved in the Society of Arts. They include a study of the Borghese Gladiator by William Parry (1742-91), who was later to study under Sir Joshua Reynolds. Parry's drawing, which was awarded a premium in 1760, is executed in black chalk and employs a firm, c1ose- knit cross-hatching, typifying the Neo-c1assical principles adhered to in the Duke of Richmond's sculpture gallery.


The reproduction of the antique figure within the academy was perceived as a means of helping the artist to gain an understanding of the idealized human physique. Reproduction of classical statuary also formed an aspect of the philosophical investigation of the antique. In 1765 Joseph Wright exhibited Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight. The painting depicts three men contemplating a reduced cast of the Borghese Gladiator, in the presence of a two-dimensional representation of the statue. David Solkin has suggested that the image may be perceived within a framework of Lockean epistemology - as the light shed upon the



8 8 MARTIN POSTLE Joseph Wright, Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight, exhibited at the

Joseph Wright, Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight, exhibited at the Society of Artists, r765, oil on canvas. Private collection.

object allows sight, 'and sight in its turn enables enlightenment' .2.6 The Gladiator, its reduced copy and the drawing made from it generate knowledge. Imitation, as Solkin states, 'becomes the mechanism whereby individuals learn to pattern themselves after models of perfection in life and in nature, as well as the arts'. 2.7 The moral and intellectual benefits of reproducing antique statuary, suggested by Wright's painting of 1765, were spelt out explicitly the

following decade by Sir Joshua Reynolds. In his third Discourse, given at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1771, Reynolds stressed that 'mere imitation', the replication of particular specimens of antique statuary, was not enough. Nor was the Ideal encapsulated in anyone classical statue. 'It is not', he stated, 'in the Hercules, nor in the Gladiator, nor in the Apollo; but in that form which is taken from them all, and which partakes equally of the activity of the Gladiator, of the delicacy of the Apollo, and of the muscular strength of the Hercules'.2.8 In order to arrive at an under- standing of the Ideal- the abstracted 'central form' - Reynolds instructed students that they should make copies of a variety of classical statues,

which an artist would prefer as supremely

beautiful, who spent his whole life in that single contemplation'. In

'models of that perfect form

as supremely beautiful, who spent his whole life in that single contemplation'. In 'models of that
Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon 89 Wright's painting the emphasis

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


Wright's painting the emphasis had been on the 'pleasure' of

In Reynolds' Discourse the stress was on the pain

induced by hard labour, industry and discipline. The rewards lay less in the process than in the results of prolonged study: significantly it was this

ethos that informed the routine of the Royal Academy schools.




The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in December 1768. Strict rules were laid down for study in the Plaister Academy:

There shall be Weekly, set out in the Great Room, One or more Plaister Figures by the Keeper, for the Students to draw after, and no Student shall presume to move the said Figures out of the said Places where they have been set by the Keeper, without his leave first obtained for that Purpose. When any student hath taken possession of a Place in the Plaister Academy, he shall not be removed out of it, till the Week in which he hath taken it is expired. The Plaister Academy, shall be open every Day (Sundays and Vacation times excepted) from Nine in the Morning till Three in the Afternoon. 3 0

The Plaister Academy, like the Life Class, was an exclusively male preserve, and although there was no rule forbidding the Academy's two female members (Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser) from studying

there, it was tacitly accepted that they would not avail themselves of the opportunity.3 I In 1770 the Swedish artist, Elias Martin, who was then enrolled as a student in the schools, exhibited A Picture of the Royal Plaister Academy, the only known representation of the Cast Room of the Royal

Academy, in its first location - a dingy print warehouse in Pall Mal1. In Martin's painting a small group of young students cluster around a group of classical casts, including Meleager, the Callipygian Venus, Mercury, the so-called Cannibal and Michelangelo's Bacchus. Standing, above and to the left, is an Academician (known as a 'Visitor') whose task it was to supervise the quality and 'correctness' of the students' copies from the statuary before them. Just discernible to his right, in the shadows, is an older figure, probably the Keeper of the schools, George Michael Moser. While Moser was in overall control of the schools, it was the role of the Visitor to 'attend the schools by rotation, each a month, to set the figures, to examine the performances of the students, to advise and instruct them, to endeavour to form their taste, and turn their attention towards that branch of the Arts for which they shall seem to have the aptest dis- position'.33 As one would expect, the atmosphere is one of quiet industry




9 ° MARTIN POSTLE Elias Martin, A Picture of the Royal Plaister Academy, signed and dated

Elias Martin, A Picture of the Royal Plaister Academy, signed and dated 1770, oil on canvas. Royal Academy of Fine Arcs, Stockholm.

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


and obedience, the aura of reverence for the casts stressed by the dramatic lighting and their attenuated form. Martin's Cast Room forms a compelling contrast with ]oseph Wright's Academy by Lamplight (Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection), painted the previous year. In contrast with the pedagogic environment of Martin's painting, which depicts a specific location, Wright's imaginary Academy shows a group of young men (as opposed to boys), unrestrained and at ease, in the presence of a semi- draped, female classical statue - the Borghese Nymph with a Shell. 34 As Solkin has remarked, 'this statue, both woman and aesthetic object, acts as an agent of refinement, as a source of pleasure which elevates and softens, channelling the passions of the young into love and social feeling'.35 In other words, the students are not there merely to copy the statue before them or to make a correct reproduction of it, but to appreciate its intrinsic beauty. In 1769 Wright had declined to join the Royal Academy, pinning his loyalties instead to the more broadly based and ostensibly egalitarian Society of Artists. Indeed, according to Solkin, Wright's Academy by Lamplight was a visual expression of his views on art education and of his ideology on social relations. And even though Hogarth would no doubt have disapproved heartily of Wright's promotion of the antique figure in the Academy, both artists shared a fundamental belief in the free association of artists as equals, unlike the students in the Royal Academy schools who, says Solkin, 'submit to the discipline of an authority personified by the teachers and enshrined in the classical masterpieces that are being commended to their attention'.3 6 From an academic viewpoint, the image is subversive, promoting an imaginative response to the antique, where original and imaginative production is placed before complacent and obedient reproduction. The authority of the antique remained absolute during the decades following the foundation of the Royal Academy. An anonymous painting of c. 1780-3 (Royal Academy of Arts) shows exactly how the Plaister Academy was organized following the completion of William Chambers' New Somerset House in 1780.37 Here casts are illuminated by oil-lamps with large triple reflectors set on high standards. Student's easels are illuminated by individual oil lamps and reflectors, their work visible to the Visitor who presides over the activities from a lectern situated by the entrance. A screen has been erected along the wall behind the Belvedere Torso - a practice common in Italian academies. 38 J.M.W. Turner's black-and-red chalk drawing, executed during the mid-I790S, is typical

9 2


9 2 MARTIN POSTLE ].M . W . Turner, Belvedere Torso, mid-I790S, black - and-red chalk

].M .W. Turner, Belvedere Torso, mid-I790S, black-and-red chalk on brown paper heightened with white. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon 93 of the highly finished

Antique Statuary in the English Academy~ from Lely to Haydon


of the highly finished reproductions of antique casts produced by students in supervised sessions at the Academy. Turner, who enrolled as a student in the schools in December 1789, attended the Plaister Academy on 137 separate occasions during his studentship.39 From these sessions only eighteen drawings of casts are known. However, given that it could take at least a week to produce one drawing, the relative paucity of studies may relate to the painstaking manner in which they were made rather than any substantial loss or destruction of material.


Students could spend as many as seven years copying antique casts in the Plaister Academy. Inevitably it had a profound effect on the way in which they subsequently copied the living figure. lames Northcote, himself a student at the Royal Academy Schools during the 1770s, recalled: 'The stillness, the artificial light, the attention to what they are about, the publicity even, draws off any idle thoughts and they regard the figure and point out its defects or beauties precisely as if it were clay or marble'.4 0 The inadequacy of a system of art education that served to use the antique to regulate life drawing had already been articulated by Chardin, a student at the Academie Royale some fifty years earlier:

We begin to draw eyes, mouths, noses and ears after patterns, then feet and

hands. After having crouched over our portfolios for a long time, we're placed in

Then, after having spent entire days and

even nights, by lamplight, in front of an immobile, inanimate nature, we're presented with living nature, and suddenly the work of all the preceding years

front of the Hercules or the Torso

seems reduced to nothing. 41

It is not surprising, perhaps, that Chardin's subsequent career was centred on still-life and genre painting. In England, and in other European academies, the model was per- ceived as a piece of animated antique statuary, even when the individual palpably failed to live up to the heroic ideal. In 1787, for example, a former model at the Dublin Academy was hanged. According to a con- temporary newspaper report, although the man was a convicted murderer, 'the figure of this wretched culprit had been incomparable. It was between the Hercules and the Gladiator, and perhaps for size and symmetry in all its parts little inferior to the Apollo Belvedere' .4 2 The male model occasionally fell short of the antique ideal. The female model, however, presented a more fundamental paradox. The Venus de' Medici was upheld by her adherents as a paradigm of purity and female physical perfection. In 1770 ]oseph Nollekens -



following the example set by Gerard Audran's Les proportions du corps

humain measurees sur les plus belles figures de l'antiquite of I683 - made

his own series of measured drawings of the 'real Statue of the Venus De Medici' in Florence. The following decade, his fellow Academician Benjamin West produced a highly finished drawing of the living model in the attitude of the Venus de' Medici, which was subsequently engraved as an 'Academical Study' of Eve. In 1794 West, who had succeeded Reynolds as President of the Royal Academy two years earlier, reaffirmed the close links between the reproduction of classical statuary and the copying of the human figure. 'Were the young artist', he supposed, 'to represent the peculiar excellencies of woman would he not bestow on the figure a general smooth, and round fullness of form, to indicate the softness of character; bend the head gently forward, in the common attitude of modesty; and awaken our ideas of the slow and graceful movements peculiar to the sex, by limbs free from that masculine and sinewy expression which is the consequence of active exercise? - and such is the Venus de Medici'.43 In the Royal Academy female models were often placed in the attitude of the Venus de' Medici. In the mid-I830S Turner, then a Visitor in the schools, brought the living model and the antique statue together in the same room, placing 'the Venus de' Medici beside a female in the first period of youthful womanhood' .44 Yet, as students were acutely aware, the majority of living incarnations of Venus presented at the Academy were 'fallen' women (it being considered by both parties that their willingness to pose was in itself a form of prostitution). 45 Only the time- honoured authority of the antique sanctioned the representation of such women, whose bodies students could worship in idealized attitudes but whose minds and morals they must consider as corrupt. Already by the I770S doubts were creeping in over the authority of the antique in the curriculum of the Royal Academy. Among the first to voice dissent was the Academy's Professor of Anatomy, William Hunter, who raised the issue in his lectures to the assembled body. 'In most pictures', he noted, 'there appears to me to be more composure, more inactivity, in the figure than we see in real life'. Moreover, he criticized artists for treating the living figure in their drawings like a classical cast:

Most of the Ancient Statues which they copy and are taught to admire are figures in the quiet way of standing, sitting or lying down. And when they study Life or

Nature itself, they see it commonly in the same inactive state

unreasonable then to suppose that such easy and confined habits may introduce a quiet and inactive manner in figures and composition?4 6

Is it

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


And while Hunter conceded that 'grace' and 'beauty' the very qualities embodied in antique statuary - were important, he stated that 'there is besides animation, spirit, fire, force and violence, which make a considerable part of the most interesting scenes' While the majority of members of the Academy continued to defer to the authority of the antique, there were moves to pursue alternatives. We can look here at just two representative examples.


In r800 ]oseph Nollekens, a founder member of the Academy and teacher in the schools, made a clay statue of a Seated Venus. Rather than relying upon the repertory of classical attitudes, or even attempting to reproduce a piece of classical statuary, N ollekens sculpted the figure directly from his model as she sat in the studio putting on her clothes. 'It was the opinion of most artists', stated his pupil ]. T. Smith, 'that many of the parts of this figure could have been much improved; they thought the ankles unques- tionably too thick; and that to have given it an air of the antique, the right thigh wanted flesh to fill up the ill-formed nature which Nollekens had strictly copied'.4 8 Nollekens' modello was admired by the Earl of Carlisle, who intended to have a marble statue made from it for display at Castle Howard, North Yorkshire. However, owing to the objections of his family, it remained in Nollekens' studio until his death, when it was bought by the Earl of Egremont. 49 While the Earl of Carlisle's family had qualms about Nollekens' indelicate departure from the antique, he was vindicated by the Earl of Egremont, who when ordering a marble statue to be made from the clay modello, instructed the sculptor (J. C. F. Rossi) that 'no alterations whatever, not even an improvement upon the model, should be attempted'.5 0 A second, more extreme, example involves William Blake. Around 1780 Blake, then a student in the Royal Academy schools, made an unorthodox life drawing. The face and torso were clearly based on the features and form of a male figure. Curiously, however, the buttocks and legs were copied from the Venus de' Medici. The drawing was possibly conceived in a spirit of rebellion against the regime imposed by the Royal Academy.51 At a deeper level, the drawing foreshadowed Blake's own idiosyncratic attitude towards the antique, which surfaced more explicitly in 18°9, when he argued that Greek and Roman antique sculptures were copies of lost religious art of the Old Testament. Blake subsequently visualized his viewpoint in an engraving of The Laocoon as


MARTIN POSTLE William Blake, Naked Youth, Seen from the Side, c. 1779""80, black chalk on paper.

William Blake, Naked Youth, Seen from the Side,

c. 1779""80, black chalk on paper. British Museum, London.

black chalk on paper. British Museum, London. ]ehovah with Satan and Adam, which he had based

]ehovah with Satan and Adam, which he had based on a copy of a cast he had made in the Royal Academy.5~ It may not have been entirely coincidental that at the very time Blake was questioning the veracity of ancient classical statuary, the arch-conservative, and future President of the Royal Academy, Martin Archer Shee observed that the 'general (and it is to be feared) growing disregard of that purity of form and character, of which the Greeks have supplied us with the most impressive examples, is alarming to the interests of taste'.53 Even so, it was not Blake - then regarded as a peripheral figure - who posed the real threat to the established authority of antique statuary but the importation into England by Lord Elgin of new and unfamiliar pieces of classical sculpture recently removed from the Parthenon in Athens.

sculpture recently removed from the Parthenon in Athens. REPRODUCTION AND THE PARTHENON SCULPTURES In 1807 the


In 1807 the young Benjamin Robert Haydon expressed his concern at the differences he observed when making drawings from the antique cast and the living model:

In my model I saw the back vary according to the actions of the arms. In the antique these variations were not so apparent. Was nature or the antique wrong?

Antique Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon


Statuary in the English Academy, from Lely to Haydon 97 Benjamin Robert Haydon, South Metope XXVlI,

Benjamin Robert Haydon,