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A Roman Bath Morning

Encircled by four-legged friends, it’s so tempting to stay in bed longer. But you still have to get up. Now, just about every visitor to this hall in the Louvre stops at this bath to admire it. I and a few tourists from Australia decided that we would happily accommodate this one at our houses. And so, the question: if indeed this bath were yours and you knew it was waiting for you, would it make you more eager to get up in the morning?

A Roman Hall at the Louvre Museum, Paris, France

All About Eve: Expressing the Mood In Sculpture

The character of Eve, the second woman created (successfully) by God who was supposed to be a good wife to Adam but ended up expelling both herself and her husband from Paradise, has long been popular in the realm of the fine arts. The sculptors in this post very differently conveyed the mood and expressions of Eve, both prior and after the Fall.

The English sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) presented Eve at the moment she was listening to Satan. She makes a warning gesture, while her face expresses attention and interest. Apparently the composition was inspired by a passage from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a very similar sculpture, carved in 1822, can be seen at the Bristol City Art Gallery. The 1842 sculpture (below) is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Victoria and Albert Museum 19
Edward Hodges Baily, Eve listening to the voice (1842, V&A Museum, London)


Bristol 95
Edward Hodges Baily, Eve by the water (1822, Bristol City Art Gallery)

Another English sculptor Thomas Brock depicted Eve after the Fall. Her left hand is covering a shoulder in a somewhat protective gesture (and, since this is a left hand, we’re again reminded of Baily’s Eve), but the whole figure produces a strange blend of sensuality, submission, and shame. A life-size plaster figure was showcased by Brock at the Royal Academy in 1898, and the marble sculpture was shown at the Paris Exhibition. The marble sculpture can be seen at the +Tate Gallery in London.

Victoria and Albert Museum 8
Sir Thomas Brock, Eve (1900, a copy, V&A Museum, London)

Finally, Auguste Rodin, whose black Eve is on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, was originally making this sculpture for the Gates of Hell, his large-scale project, on which he began to work in 1881. He did not finish the sculpture because his sitter was getting heavier and heavier with child, and this is reflected in the rough ending of the original bronze model.

But the figure he created must have held tight on his own imagination: a year later, in 1882, he produced a smaller, smooth statue, repeating the original Eve’s protective gesture. This became a hit both with the critics and the public and was reproduced in bronze, marble, and terracota.

BMAG - Auguste Rodin
Auguste Rodin, Eve (after 1882, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)

An Exhibition of Henry Moore Sculpture Comes to Moscow Until May 2012

On February 22 Moscow citizens and visitors will see the opening of the event dedicated to the 20th c. Michelangelo whose artistic legacy spans traditions and media.

Born in 1898 in Castleford, Yorkshire, Henry Moore went on to document the 20th c. in his gigantic, outworldly figures that now grace museum collections across the world. His contribution is unique not only for the caliber of his work but also for his undying support of the artistic practice through The Henry Moore Foundation.

The works for this ground-breaking exhibitions are provided by the British Council, the Tate Gallery, The Henry Moore Foundation, and various British private collections. The events coinciding with the exhibition are an evening of contemporary British literature and a contest for the best essay in Russian about the role of sculpture in the modern urban setting.

The exhibition runs from February 22 until May 10, 2012.

The photo used here is a Henry Moore sculpture displayed in front of Leeds Art Gallery.

The Manezh Square Equestrian Fountain in Winter

Manezh Square fountain, October 2010

I couldn’t resist commemorating a snowy silhouette of this equestian fountain in Manezh Square. You first saw what it looks like in October 2010. And this is it in January 2012.

Manezh Square fountain in snow, January 2012

To tell you the truth, after looking at the last photo at home I couldn’t resist drawing an analogy between these “horsy” profiles with one of the best-known images of the Soviet era: the four profile portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, as the figureheads of the international revolutionary movement. Obviously, the only thing that unites both images is the symbol of quadriga, but I thought it was a peculiar parallel nonetheless.

The quadriga of the global revolution (courtesy of izhvkpb.narod.ru)


The Wired Sculptures by Ivan Lovatt

Ivan, Andy, and Soup
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Ivan Lovatt was born in Kenya and then came to live in the UK. For the past 6 years he contributed, as a professional sculptor, his works to private collections, corporations and public exhibitions. His most famous pieces are made of chicken wire: “by layering, twisting and shaping this very ordinary medium Ivan creates both abstract and realistic representations, which are tactile, appealing to the viewer to touch.  As Ivan’s skills developed and evolved he was drawn to figurative work, and Ivan began a series of portraits of famous people which candidly demonstrates his superior level of craftsmanship and attention to detail“. 


Michael Jackson

You can visit Ivan’s official website, while here is a small selection of his portraits of famous people. Most of them are instantly recognisable; it seems that Ivan is experimenting more with the medium than the form. However, his portraits of The Beatles and John Lennon reminded me of a series of photographs by an Italian photographer Enzo Rafazzini who was once offered to participate in a project illustrating The Beatles’ lyrics. Rafazzini chose When I’m Sixty-Four


Enzo Rafazzini
Enzo Rafazzini

In the post, though, I’m using The Beatles’ Come Together. I thought the rhythm suits all the images quite nicely. 

Enzo Rafazzini


Enzo Rafazzini

Mahatma Gandhi in Moscow

The art of diplomacy consists in the ability to view a situation, especially a conflict, through the eyes of the opponent. The best example of this ability seems to have been presented by Gandhi’s fight for India’s independence, when the gifted national leader managed to step into the shoes of the British authorities, understand their point of view, and then to offer a solution. In effect, he orchestrated the whole event.

The monument in the photo stands in the courtyard of the State Foreign Literature Library in Moscow where I have been a reader since 1997.

Christmas in Sculpture: The Vatican Magi

Adoration of the Magi, 3rd c. A.D., Vatican, Rome

And we’re starting with the carved scene of the Adoration of the Magi (top). It can be found in Rome, in Vatican, so those of you who are Italian or regularly visit Italy can find this carving on a 3rd century sarcophagus. In Vatican, as well, there will be two 4th c. sarcophagi with the same theme, so we can actually see how the depiction evolved in just a hundred years. If anything, it became more elaborate, compared to the earlier carving where figures are crowded around enthroned Our Lady. The carvings from the 4th c. sarcophagus from St Agnes cemetery at the Museo Pio Christiano in Vatican demonstrate original imagination and impressive skill of the carvers: the scene now includes camels on which the Magi rode, following the Star of Bethlehem. One of the depictions (below) also contains the scene of the Massacre of the Innocents.

Adoration of the Magi, 4th c. A.D., Vatican, Rome

Another curious point is the headgear of the wise men: the commissioners and carvers of the 3rd c. and one of the 4th c. sarcophagi were clearly of the opinion that the Magi came from Persia, thus adorning their heads with a Phrygian cap. However, on another 4th c. sarcophagus the headgear is more ambiguous, and looks similar to the later depiction of the Magi wearing Arabic head scarves. Where all depictions seem to agree is the way the gifts followed one another: the first is myrrh oil, followed by frankinsence, followed by gold.

Adoration of the Magi, 4th c. A.D., Museo Pio Christiano, Vatican, Rome, St Agnes cemetery


Christmas in Sculpture: Fatherhood of St Joseph

I am finishing 2009 on a high note with a trip to Sheffield on 29th December. It was a good trip and an interesting experience, which I will be talking about… in 2010!

Arthur de Mowbray, Nativity
Christian Fell, Nativity

In the meantime, a visit to Sheffield Cathedral has brought us two examples of Christmas-themed sculpture. I could not establish the author of the wooden carved group, although what I did manage to find suggests Arthur de Mowbray as the sculptor. It is a boldly carved Nativity scene, with careful work carried out on the minute details.

The second example is a now complete Nativity group by Brian Fell. It was produced in parts for Sheffield Galvanize Festival, and this year Mary that was created in 2008 was joined by Joseph and Jesus, and all three can now be found at the west end of the church (this part of the cathedral was built in 1966). Fell follows the same approach to depicting the baby Jesus as we have seen in the marble group at Manchester Cathedral: the newly born is wrapped up in sheets. In this sense, the wooden Nativity group that stands close to St Katharine Chapel is traditional in that it appears to follow the canonic depiction of Jesus in the nude. Fell’s group, with Joseph holding the baby, produces a similar effect of intimacy and parental amazement, as does the work by Josefin de Vasconcellos in Manchester.

St Joseph with Jesus,
R.C. Church of St Marie, Sheffield

A slightly different example, still in Sheffield, is this painted sculpture of Joseph and baby Jesus in the wall of the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Marie. It is simply beautiful and deserves to be included in the post. Together with Fell’s Nativity and de Vasconcellos’s Holy Night, this is a fairly rare example of Joseph with baby Jesus depicted in art, especially in sculpture. Joseph is seen here with his flowering staff. In short, Sheffield has brought us several Nativity scenes that focus on fatherhood of Joseph rather than motherhood of Mary.

Nativity, Sheffield Town Hall

Inside Sheffield Town Hall there was an elaborate Nativity display, one of the loveliest ones I have seen in the last few years. And below is a Nativity scene from Llandudno photographed outside Marks&Spencer in December 2007.

Nativity, Llandudno


Sheffield Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul
Cathedral Church of St Marie

Full-size photos on Flickr: 

Nativity by Brian Fell
Holy Family
St Joseph and Jesus
The Holy Night

Christmas in Sculpture: Nativity

Manchester Cathedral - The Holy Night
Josephine de Vasconcellos, Holy Night, 1992
(Manchester Cathedral, UK)

And this beautiful and touching sculptural group can be seen by visitors to Manchester Cathedral. Located by the Lady Chapel and Chapter House, it was carved by Josephine de Vasconcellos in 1992. I particularly like the mixture of intensity, love, adoration, tenderness, and peace in this sculpture. Mary, evidently tired after giving birth to her son, rests under Joseph’s arm who also carefully cradles the baby Jesus that lies wrapped in cloth on Mary’s knees. A beautiful if playful detail: Mary rests her feet on a small lamb.


Les Anges Musiciens – Musical Angels

Manchester Cathedral - Musical Angels 4My photo of one of the musical angels in Manchester Cathedral has just been invited to the group Anges Musiciens (‘musical angels’ in French). I thought I’d point to it those who love art, especially Medieval. Someone was asking if Devil was a musical angel, and if angels could sing. Clearly, if there is an expression ‘angelic voice’, it originated for a reason. Here is the post, if you want to read for yourself. Incidentally, the decor of the altar screen in Manchester Cathedral portraits the singing angels. And on the right is how Edward Burne-Jones depicted a musical angel in 1878-1880 (credit to ArtMagick).

Manchester Cathedral - Singing Angels

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