By using this website you agree to our Cookie policy

December 1996, No. 1125 – Vol 138

European Sculpture

Buy PDF issue
Subscribe
Buy PDF issue
Subscribe
Editorial

The Future of the British Museum

A casual look at the British government's attitude to museums since the mid-1980s might suggest that there has been a remarkable change. Museums are now perceived and described in positive terms; there is no more talk of deaccessioning or downgrading curatorial skills; and huge sums are being made available for capital projects through the National Lottery. And yet the country's largest and greatest national museum faces a crisis so grave that it has been advised to abandon its two-hundred year old tradition of free admission for all. How can this have come about?

 

Editorial read more
  • Five Netherlandish Carved Altar-Pieces in England and the Brussels School of Carving c.1470-1520

    By Kim Woods

    Carved wooden altar-pieces were evidently a Netherlandish art form as early as 1390, when Philip the Bold ordered from the Dendermonde carver Jacques Baerze two examples (now in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dijon) to be modelled on those in the ducal chapel at Dendermonde and in Bijloke Abbey, Ghent.' The fact that the commission followed the duke's tour of his northern provinces suggests that such works may already have been a local speciality that impressed him. Although there were numerous centres of production,2 by the mid-fifteenth century Brussels seems to have been predominant. Here a guild edict of 1454 ruled that craftsmen's marks be applied to altar-pieces as guarantees of quality between the three guilds involved: joiners (compass mark), carvers (mallet mark) and painters ('BRUESEL')." Antwerp, increasingly Brussels's chief competitor, followed suit in 1470 when the open-hand mark of the carver and the castle mark of the painters were introduced. Although some altar-pieces were custom-made, both centres produced large numbers in standardised form for particular clients and for sale on the open market.4 During the second half of the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries, both Brussels and Antwerp altar-pieces were exported in large numbers to Western Europe and beyond, predominantly through the Onser Liever Vrouwen Pand, an art market operating on premises leased from the church of Our Lady, Antwerp, from 1460.5

    Buy PDF
  • Reinvesting the Idol: J.-K. Huysmans and Sculpture

    By Philip Ward-Jackson

    Few of J.-K. Huysmans's statements on sculpture have been assimilated by art history. This may be because he strove to project a negative attitude to the plastic arts as constituted in his time. One brief moment of enthusiasm on his part has furnished authoritative and favourable quotations to evoke the shock effect of Degas's Little dancer (Fig.25), when she finally reached the exhibition stand in 1881. The Dancer and two sculptures by Gauguin (Fig.24), almost alone among contemporary three-dimensional works, overcame a deeply entrenched resistance. Huysmans, it must be said, opened his arms to Degas's creation rather as a long-awaited encapsulation of the Naturalist principle than as an example for future performances. The same applies to his early laudatory references to the work of J.-B. Carpeaux and a brief, fevered and erotomanic description of the studies for the Gates of Hell which Auguste Rodin exhibited in 1887 at the Georges Petit Gallery.' These acknowledgements of an exceptional vitality in sculpture were without sequel in Huysmans's writings. When in the essay Des Prix of 1889, he lined up the contents of his ideal museum of modern art, he included no sculpture at all. Give or take one or two wayward choices, his selection conforms to a remarkable extent to the twentieth century's evaluation of the art of his time. The major impressionist painters are all included. There were to be Cezanne still lifes. Moreau, Redon and Bresdin represent the tendency, as Huysmans would have put it, to throw oneself out of one's time. Drawings and graphics have their space allocated, but not sculpture.2

     

    Buy PDF
  • Joyce Plesters (1927-96)

    By Michael Levey
    Buy PDF
  • The Arts of China to AD 900

    By Rose Kerr
    Buy PDF
  • Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China

    By Julia K. Murray
    Buy PDF
  • Die Mittelalterlichen Grabmaler in Rom und Latium vom 13. bis zum 15. Jahrhundert 2. Die Monumentalgraber

    By Julian Gardner
    Buy PDF
  • Giovannino de Grassi. La corte e la cattedrale

    By Evelyn S. Welch
    Buy PDF
  • Tullio Lombardo and Ideal Portrait Sculpture in Renaissance Venice, 1490-1530

    By Jennifer Fletcher
    Buy PDF
  • Placchette, secoli XV-XVIII nel Museo Nazionale del Bargello

    By Jeremy Warren
    Buy PDF
  • Modernity and Nostalgia: Art and Politics in France between the Wars

    By Merlin James
    Buy PDF
  • Ewald Matare, das plastische Werk: Werkverzeichnis

    By Erich Ranfft
    Buy PDF
  • Rachel Whiteread. Liverpool and Madrid

    By David Batchelor
    Buy PDF
  • David Le Marchand. Edinburgh, London and Leeds

    By Malcolm Baker
    Buy PDF
  • Velázquez in Seville. Edinburgh

    By Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez
    Buy PDF
  • Francis Bacon. Paris and Munich

    By Richard Shone
    Buy PDF
  • Jan Steen. Washington and Amsterdam

    By Peter Hecht
    Buy PDF
  • Historismus in Europa. Vienna

    By William Vaughan
    Buy PDF
  • Tiepolo. Venice and New York

    By Alastair Laing
    Buy PDF
  • Polke: Photoworks. Washington

    By Lynne Cooke
    Buy PDF