January 2012 - portraits of seven sculptors

Three recent purchases of miniature portraits of famous sculptors, represent an opportunity to indicate how themes can also be a means of forming a collection of miniature portraits.

One is a miniature portrait of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519). Leonardo da Vinci, was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. He is better known as the painter of the Mona Lisa, but also a sculptor famous for his plans for a huge bronze horse. The miniature of da Vinci is a 20C copy by Melocchi and the copy of the Mona Lisa showing here is also by Melocchi. See View

The second is a miniature of Michaelangelo, yet again a miniature copy by Melocchi. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.

Despite making few forays beyond the arts, the versatility of Michelangelo in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo is famous for his sculpture of David.

The third is a miniature of the Italian sculptor, Antonio Canova (1 November 1757 – 13 October 1822), an Italian sculptor from the Republic of Venice who became famous for his marble sculptures that delicately rendered nude flesh. The epitome of the neoclassical style, his work marked a return to classical refinement after the theatrical excesses of Baroque sculpture. Showing here is Psyche Revived by Love's Kiss, which is in the Louvre. The miniature is by an unknown artist, see View

An honour for this collection during 2011 was the inclusion of a miniature portrait from the collection, being of the French sculptor, Joseph Chinard, in a new book of essays, Barocke Kunststuckh, which was published as a tribute to the scholar Christian Theuerkauff.

The particular essay being Ein kurslich identifiziertes Bildnis-medaillon des Dominique-Vivant Denon von Joseph Chinard in der Berliner Skulpturensammlung by Hans-Ulrich Kessler.

Joseph Chinard (Lyon, 12 February 1756 — Lyon 20 June 1813) was a French sculptor who worked in a Neoclassical style that was infused with naturalism and sentiment. Among his works is this bust of the Empress Josephine.

He received his early training in Lyon, as a painter, in the government-supported École Royale de Dessin, then worked with a local sculptor. His work at Lyon drew the attention of a patron who sent him to Rome, 1784-87. He sent back to Lyon copies of antiquities. In Rome he won a prize from the Accademia di San Luca, a signal honour for a non-Italian: his prize-winning sculpture, a terracotta Perseus and Andromeda remains in the collection of the Accademia. The miniature is on enamel by Francois Soiron, see View

François-Auguste-René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), known as Auguste Rodin needs no introduction. He was a French sculptor generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, although he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art. needs no introduction. The miniature is by Frank Nicolet, see View

The next sitter is identified as John Tweed (21 Jan 1869-12 Nov 1933) painted by John Stewart Clark. Tweed was one of the most famous British sculptors of the early 20C, who, despite being born in Glasgow, Scotland, is described as "the English Rodin" by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, see Other Sculptures by Rodin in the V&A - Victoria and Albert Museum Sculptures by Tweed were mainly memorials, such as this memorial to the Duke of Wellington in St Paul's Cathedral in London.

If Tweed had concentrated on artistic sculptures he may have achieved more fame in current times ,as memorial sculptures are now largely out of favour as an art form. See View

The seventh sculptor featured here is the American, Anna Coleman Ladd (nee Watts) (15 Jul 1878 - 3 Jun 1939) who came from a very wealthy Boston family. See View

Although she did not achieve the international fame of any of the other sculptors appearing here, her miniature is special as being a unique example of a self-portrait by her. She was noted during World War I for making face masks for soldiers disfigured in battle.

In addition, she is the only one of the seven featured for whom it was financially possible to buy a bronze sculpture by the artist for this collection, as her sculptures are still very modestly priced!

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