Enfilade

Royal Academy of Arts: Object of the Month, Kauffman’s ‘Design’

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 29, 2011

From the Royal Academy of Arts in London:

Royal Academy of Arts, Object of the Month — January 2011
Angelica Kauffman, Design, oil on canvas, 1778-80

Angelica Kauffman RA, "Design," oil on canvas, 1778-80 ©Royal Academy of Arts, London

. . . This painting is part of a set of the four ‘Elements of Art’ represented by female allegories of Invention, Composition, Design and Colour which were commissioned by the Royal Academy in 1778 to decorate the ceiling of the Academy’s new Council Chamber in Somerset House. The present painting shows the figure of Design as an imposing allegorical female dressed in white and pale red with a purple mantle, seated beside two Roman columns. The figure is copying a fragment of an Antique male nude statue, commonly called the Belvedere torso. The original statue was first documented in Rome in the 1430s and is now in the Vatican Museum, Rome. However a cast of this torso was in the Royal Academy’s collection at the time of Kauffman’s commission and was for the use of the students of the Royal Academy Schools.

This composition alludes to one of the cornerstones of artistic academic training at that period which focused on proportion, scale and form based on antique prototypes. This training was also echoed in Kauffman’s own study, which was based on copying Antique statues and the Renaissance great masters. . . .

The full essay is available here»

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Usually on display in the Front Hall of the Royal Academy, the painting can be seen until 6 March 2011 in the exhibition, Rome and Antiquity: Reality and Vision in the Eighteenth Century at the Museo of the Fondazione Roma.

Royal Academy of Arts: Artist of the Month, John Bacon

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 29, 2011

From the Royal Academy of Arts in London:

Royal Academy of Arts, Artist of the Month — January 2011
John Bacon RA (1740-1799)

John Bacon, "Sickness," marble, 1778 Diploma Work given by John Bacon, R.A., accepted 1778 © Royal Academy of Arts, London (Photo by Paul Highnam)

Bacon was the son of a cloth-worker, and was originally apprenticed to Nicholas Crispe, the owner of a porcelain factory, in 1755. Here he learnt to create designs for small scale productions in both ceramic and metalwork. In 1759 he was ambitious enough to enter the first of many sculptures into the Society of Arts premium competitions. He was successful in winning 11 premiums as well as being awarded the Society’s gold medal. Bacon went on to work with Josiah Wedgwood, Matthew Boulton and James Tassie. By 1769 the establishment of the Royal Academy Schools provided further opportunities and Bacon enrolled as a student by June of that year. He was again successful in the RA Schools competitions and won a gold medal in his first year there. His rise in the Royal Academy was rapid as he was elected as Associate of the Royal Academy in 1770 and a full Royal Academician in 1778.

His Diploma Work, given to the Royal Academy on his election to full Membership, was Sickness which is a copy of the head of figure which forms part of the monument to Thomas Guy in Guy’s Hospital Chapel, London (1779). Completed in 1779 the founder of the Hospital is depicted life size,
in contemporary dress, bending down to help an emaciated, ailing man. Unlike his contemporary and rival Thomas Banks, Bacon never visited Rome and was not greatly interested in looking to classical prototypes. The tortured expression of Sickness is more naturalistic than the Neo-classical ideal of noble simplicity would allow. . . .

The full essay is available here»

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The bust of Sickness can be seen in the Louvre exhibition Antiquity Rediscovered: Innovation and Resistance in the 18th Century until 14 February 2011.