Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: Sculpture Victorious

Toward the end of December, I had included in my annual round-up of favorite art exhibitions Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901, aka the long-awaited Victorian sculpture exhibition. It was held in New Haven at the Yale Center for British Art, and currently is on show at Tate Britain. I'm actually a little frustrated because I wanted to see the exhibition again when I go to London in a few months from now, but the show is scheduled to close a week before I arrive. In any case, I'm very glad I had the opportunity to see it in its version at Yale, and I'm pleased to share that my exhibition review in the Spring 2015 issue of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide has just been published. This open-access, peer-reviewed journal is free to read, so you can see my review by following this link:

The image you see above is one of the smaller, technical marvels in the exhibition, a hand-sized figurine of Queen Victoria made by a machine, a work that was but one of the many in the show that celebrated the union of man and technology during the Victorian age. Here is what I wrote about it: "Displayed in vitrines to the left and along the wall [in the entrance] were miniature, mass-produced representations of Victoria available to middle-class consumers, derived from official images of the monarch such as the busts [seen nearby]. One amazing feat of artistic, technical ingenuity, developed early in Victoria's lifetime, was the sculpture-reduction machine. Prototypes had been designed and utilized by James Watt and John Isaac Hawkins, but by 1828 Benjamin Cheverton had launched the most commercially viable machine. His replica of [Sir Francis] Chantrey's bust of the queen, in ivory on a stone socle, measures about 7 inches and dates from 1842. The carving arguably reveals its mechanical origins, but the delicacy in its handling and details is still extraordinary." (Image: Victoria and Albert Museum)

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