Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Lorenzo Bartolini

Lorenzo Bartolini - La Table aux Amours (1845)
Here's another gem from La Scultura Italiana: Lorenzo Bartolini's La Table aux Amours (1845), also called The Demidoff Table. Bartolini is one of my favourite sculptors, whose brilliant Neoclassic art guarantees the Wow factor. How can anyone carve something so beautiful out of a block of marble? Le Duc de Loubat donated this work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1903. Twit! Why didn't he give it to the British Museum, so I could admire it from all sides? At least the lucky Met has put four views on its website. Click the title link to see them.

14 Comments:

At 24/5/06, Blogger Jacoblog said...

YES! Something that's nearer to me! I have got to make a trip to the Met.

 
At 24/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Hi, Jacoblog. I lost your comment on this blog. I must have double-keyed when deleting something else. Couldn't find it on my ISP's website either. Something about visiting the Met. Sounds a good idea.
Apologies.

 
At 24/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

Cor!
Read the description too. You can see the astro signs around the edge of the table [the heavens] but you can't tell from the photo that the table top is a map of the world.
Tell me coxsoft, is the choice of material a key part of a sculpting and what should I make of the expressionless eyes? whatever it is, it works.

 
At 25/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

I'd noticed the Zodiac signs, but, not having read the description, didn't know the table has a map of the world. I guess it represents the world, maybe the universe.
The blank eyes seem to be characteristic of this artist. Some sculptors bore holes to represent pupils; some don't. As a "blind" girl, she's powerful.
Easy to work and long lasting are the qualities sculptors seek. Wood is the easiest, but is best kept indoors or it rots. Marble is relatively soft, but keeps well outdoors. Bronze is relatively easy to cast and doesn't rust like iron. The most ephemeral material for sculpture is ice. But the effect can be brilliant. There's an annual ice-carving competition in Canada, I think. Must ask Jacoblog about it.
Interesting footnote: the block of marble Michelangelo used for David had been rejected by other sculptors, because of a crack in it. Michelangelo managed to work round the crack.
So flaws - cracks in marble or knotholes in wood - dictate what the artist uses and how he works it.
And price. Marble is expensive. Wood and ice are cheap. Availability is also vital. If you can't get it, you can't carve it.
If you live in a region where ivory is readily available, that's what you carve, but you're limited to the shape of tusks. Have you seen the collection of Japanese Netsuki in the V & A? Exquisite little gems.
Then there's clay....

 
At 25/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

According to Bartolini himself "she" is the God Cupid and the other two are also described in the male gender.

 
At 25/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Whoops! That explains the quiver of arrows on the "table". This is the most feminine Cupid I've ever seen, and I've seen a few Cupids in my time. Next time you're in the National Gallery, check out the Cupid in Bronzino's Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time. Bronzino's Cupid is the most lascivious, sexually ambiguous little perv ever. Definately the last word in Cupids.
So what's Bartolini's long-haired girlie Cupid doing on a table with three young boys, all fast asleep? Come on, enlighten me, if it isn't too risque!

 
At 25/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

I've seen the holes that represent pupils, but even these are expressionless. This one really does look "blind". This is Cupid and Love is Blind! Capture the moment.

Although created in 1845 the subject matter goes way back to early Roman/Greek times. In those days Women were for babies and boys were for pleasure. Have you noticed how so much art around that time, or reflecting that time, depicts the young male as "pretty".

Subliminal message? The raised forefinger on the left hand is telling the 1845 viewer something. Think before you judge maybe?

And the masses think the sleepover is a girlie thing invented by the Americans in the 1950s.

On material I was wondering whether there was a relationship between that and the subject matter. Marble just looks awesome, but I suppose it is just a question of fashion at the time or what's available. Nevertheless would this piece have worked in Bronze, Clay or wood? I don't think so.

 
At 26/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Neoclassicism is all about ancient Greco-Roman art and architecture. It literally means new classic. The Renaissance started this love affair with ancient art. That's why from then on you find so many Greco-Roman gods depicted in paintings and statues.
The idea in ancient times was that the most perfect physical specimen, the epitomy of beauty, was male. Today, our idea of perfect beauty is female.
The ancient Greeks and Romans were a gay lot. The instructors of Greek atheletes didn't want their young protoges distracted by women, who weren't allowed anywhere near the training camps. So trainer and trained became lovers. In the Roman army, gayness (?) was also encouraged, because it was thought a soldier would fight better beside his lover. (Even our idea of gayness has changed since those days. We see gays as effete. Butch? Athletes? Rugged soldiers conquering half the world? No way!) But also gayness wasn't a lifelong thing, a total rejection of women. Once the athlete had won his events and the soldier was discharged from service, they were expected to get married, settle down and raise a new generation of athletes and soldiers.
Marble captures white skin tones better than any other carvable medium.
As for young Cupid, I'm sure the upraised finger indicates "Shush. Don't wake them." The only explanation I can come up with is that the little pest is giving them wet dreams and doesn't want them distracted!

 
At 26/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

You should get out more.
Effette? That's the "Carry on" image. It's not like that any more. Camp doesn't necessarily mean Gay.
Gays are springing out of the closet everywhere and to the naked eye they are just like you and me. Gays have fundamentalists too, and its those that put on the carnivals.

 
At 26/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

When I see them marching down the High Street in a phalanx with bared swords, I'll get worried!
Isn't it past your bedtime? I've got a blog about feet to do.

 
At 26/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

I'll ask them to mince and flash their weapons as a special favour to you.
Beware the cheesecake shop, grommit!

 
At 27/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Cheesecake shops? Is that where thay hang out, Wallace? I thought it was just people wanting to commit slow suicide on saturated fats.

 
At 30/5/06, Blogger Alan Fisk said...

If you're interested, Bronzino's Allegory is the subject of my latest historical novel, "Cupid and the Silent Goddess", which imagines how the painting might have been created in Florence in 1544-5.

See:
http://www.twentyfirstcenturypublishers.com/index.asp?PageID=496

 
At 30/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Thanks for the link, Alan. I'll check it out this evening.

 

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