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Perseus Arming: M.4-1951

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Object information

Current Location: In storage

Titles

Perseus Arming

Maker(s)

Sculptor: Gilbert, Alfred

Entities

Categories

Description

Bronze, cast of Perseus, nude, and standing bending slightly backwards to the left, his left arm raised to shoulder height and bent. He gazes down at his right foot and heel, shod with the winged sandal. His other foot is still unshod. The helmet on his head is plain except for the wings at the sides. In his left hand he holds a sword with belt attached.

Notes

History note: From the collection of the painter, Sigismund Goetze (1866-1939)

Legal notes

Given by Mrs May Cippico in accordance with the wishes of Mrs Constance Goetze

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1951-04-19) by Cippico, May

Dating

4th quarter 19th Century
Production date: after AD 1883 : Original plaster model: 1880-1; first bronze cast by 1882. This bronze reduction cast at an unknown date after 1883.

Note

In Greek mythology, Perseus was son of Zeus (king of the gods) and the mortal Danaë. His greatest feat was to slay Medusa, the snake-haired Gorgon monster. It was as a mighty athletic victor, holding aloft Medusa’s severed head, that Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71) famously portrayed him in the 1550s. Gilbert spent several years in Italy studying Renaissance art, and Perseus Arming is his deeply personal, autobiographical response to Cellini’s prototype. Gilbert said: 'amazed as I was by that great work, it still left me somewhat cold, insomuch that it failed to touch my sympathies. As at that time my whole thoughts were of my artistic equipment for the future, I conceived the idea that Perseus before becoming a hero was a mere mortal, and that he had to look to his equipment. That is a presage of my life and work at that time.' (Hatton 1903, p. 10). By showing Perseus in the act of quietly equipping himself for future trials, Gilbert emphasised Perseus’ mortal rather than heroic character. Gilbert modelled the original plaster of Perseus Arming in Rome in 1880-1, and had the first bronze of it cast in Italy using the lost-wax casting method. This was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, Bond Street, London in 1882 to great acclaim (his marble Kiss of Victory was exhibited at the Royal Academy at the same time) and at the Paris Salon in 1883, where it received an honourable mention. Perseus Arming was a highly significant early work and the first of three important, deeply personal bronzes Gilbert made his highly creative period of 1881 to 1892 – the other two being Icarus and Comedy and Tragedy (for a cast of the latter, see M.1-2003). Perseus Arming was one of Gilbert's most popular models. It was reproduced in three sizes: full-scale (c.71-74 cm; see also M.22-2015, 67.9cm high), which is rare; half-scale (c.36 cm); and quarter-scale (c.14.5cm). The date and the place of casting of this example is uncertain.

Sir Alfred Gilbert RA MVO (1854-1934) was an English sculptor. He studied in London, Paris and Rome, returning to England in 1884. Gilbert was the leading artist in the New Sculpture movement, which revitalised sculpture in late nineteenth-century Britain. He was also a vital force in reintroducing the lost-wax technique for casting works of art in bronze in England (sand-casting had been the norm for bronze sculpture since the 18th century, with lost-wax casting used only for small-scale work and jewellery). His commissions included the jubilee memorial to Queen Victoria in Winchester and the statue of Eros, in aluminium, for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus, and in 1900 he was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy. A period of bankruptcy and divorce followed, and Gilbert moved to Bruges. On his return to England in 1926, his fortunes improved, the highlight being the bronze Queen Alexandra Memorial, at Marlborough House, London, 1926-32. He was knighted by George V in 1932. Gilbert died in poverty in 1934.

School or Style

New Sculpture Movement

People, subjects and objects depicted

Project

  • Sculpture UK

Components of the work

Base Height 11 cm
Figure Height 35.8 cm Width 17 cm

Materials used in production

Copper alloy
Bronze

Techniques used in production

Lost-wax process : Bronze, cast and chased

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.4-1951
Primary reference Number: 12444
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_4_1951
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 30 March 2021 Last processed: Thursday 20 January 2022

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Perseus Arming" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/12444 Accessed: 2022-11-27 20:21:42

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/12444 |title=Perseus Arming |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-11-27 20:21:42|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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