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Design
  • Design
    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823
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Design

  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1770s-1780s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chalk on wove paper

  • Museum number:

    E.453:1-2010

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case A, shelf 190

This design depicts a dead man being supported by an angel who holds up one side of a curtain as the figure of Britannia looks on whilst wringing her hands. Neptune, the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology, is seated at the feet of the corpse holding his trident aloft. From the god's presence, it can be deduced that the dead man is a naval officer who died in action. The potion of the body recalls Michelangelo's Pieta in the Basilica of Saint Peter's in Rome that Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823), the sculptor who made this design, would certainly have seen. This design is for a wall monument to commemorate the naval hero. There is another version of this design [E.451:1-2010].

Nollekens is best known as the leading portrait sculptor in Britain between 1770 and 1815. With his fellow Royal Academicians Thomas Banks and John Flaxman he established the British School of sculpture following decades of dependence on immigrant sculptors (such as Rysbrack, Scheemakers and Roubiliac). Flaxman praised Nollekens as the only sculptor before Banks who had "formed his taste on the antique and introduced a purer style of art". Opportunities to study the antique were plentiful whilst Nollekens lived for eight years from 1762-1770 in Rome. As a draughtsman he was exceptionally well trained for his day.

Physical description

Design depicting a dead man being supported by an angel who holds up one side of a curtain, the figure of Britannia looks on with folded hands, Neptune is seated at the feet of the corpse holding his trident aloft. There is a sketch of the angel supporting the corpse above right and a putto drawing on a medallion at top left.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, made)

Date

1770s-1780s (made)

Artist/maker

Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Chalk on wove paper

Marks and inscriptions

'80.7.6 a & b'
In pencil at bottom of inside mount. Sackler no.

Dimensions

Height: 25.9 cm, Width: 20.7 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: 'Nollekens is best known as the leading portrait sculptor in Britain between 1770 and 1815, and as the subject of the biography Nollekens and his Times (1828) by J.T. Smith. With his fellow Royal Academicians Thomas Banks and John Flaxman he established the British School of sculpture following decades of dependence on immigrant sculptors (such as Rysbrack, Scheemakers and Roubiliac). Flaxman praised Nollekens as the only sculptor before Banks who had "formed his taste on the antique and introduced a purer style of art". As a draughtsman he was exceptionally well trained for his day. He is also noted as a collector; he owned the three wax reliefs by Giambologna now in the V&A. The V&A's collection includes three busts by Nollekens, five of his terracottas, his marble copy after the antique, Castor and Pollux (1767)and his original marble of Diana (1778).'

Julius Bryant on RF 2010/245.

Historical context note

In the ca. 2009 edition of Gunnis's Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, design is identified as 'Sackler priv. col.'

Descriptive line

Design for sculpture by Joseph Nollekens, 1770s-1780s.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Roscoe, Ingrid, Hardy, Emma, Sullivan, M. G. A biographical dictionary of sculptors in England, 1660-1851. New Haven [Conn.]; London: Yale University Press, c.2009. pp.896-911.

Materials

Chalk; Wove paper

Techniques

Drawing

Subjects depicted

The navy; Sepulchral monuments; Sarcophagus

Categories

Sculpture; Designs; Death

Production Type

Design

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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