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Oil painting - The Prophet Daniel (study for a mosaic in St Paul's Cathedral)
  • The Prophet Daniel (study for a mosaic in St Paul's Cathedral)
    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875
  • Enlarge image

The Prophet Daniel (study for a mosaic in St Paul's Cathedral)

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    mid 19th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:

    132-1897

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Date

mid 19th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 45.125 in estimate, Width: 74.25 in estimate

Object history note

Purchased, 1897

The sculptor and designer Alfred George Stevens was born in Blandford Forum on 31st December 1817. He spent nine formative years in Italy, travelling there in 1833 at the age of sixteen. There he studied Renaissance painting, copying frescoes in Florence and the works of Andrea del Sarto at Naples, and sketching at Pompeii. He received some formal training at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. Later, in 1841-2, he worked in Rome as an assistant to the major neo-classical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. In 1845, following his return to England, he was appointed as an instructor in painting and ornament at the Government School of Design at Somerset House, where he taught architectural drawing, perspective, modelling and ornamental painting. He remained in this post for just over two years, when he resigned, being, as he put it, ‘heartily sick of it.’(1) In 1850 he became chief designer to a Sheffield firm, Messrs. Hoole and Robson, who specialised in metalwork and won renown for metalwork exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1856 Stevens received two major commissions that would occupy him until his death in 1875. The first was to conceive a decorative scheme for the dining room of Dorchester House in London for Robert Stayner Holford and the second was to design and execute a monument to the Duke of Wellington which was to have a permanent place in St Paul’s Cathedral. The major piece that was executed (although never finished) by Stevens for Dorchester House’s dining room was the chimneypiece. This was finished after Stevens’ death by his former pupil James Gamble and is now in the Gamble Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Wellington Monument was worked on by Stephens until A. S. Ayrton, the first commissioner of works, ended his contract in 1870. This unresolved situation and Stevens’ sudden death on 1st May 1875 meant that he never finished the monument. His pupil Hugh Stannus completed the majority of the work, but it was only finally finished in 1912 after several petitions from prominent artists including Frederic Leighton, and after further work had been carried out by John Tweed.

The Prophet Daniel is an oil study for a mosaic designed by Stevens for one of the spandrels between the dome arches of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. This study depicts the head and upper body of the prophet Daniel as he gazes upwards. There are other works in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection that relate to the mosaic, for example, a red chalk sketch of the entire seated figure (Museum no. 132a-1897). There is also an experimental panel of mosaic entitled Head of the Prophet Daniel (museum no.108-1873). Further to these works is an architectural model (museum No.1957-1897) which is a reduced scale plaster model that shows the scheme for the St Paul’s mosaic decorations and features a painting of the head of Daniel between two angels. This plaster model is to be compared with its companion model (museum no.1956-1897) which features the prophet Jeremiah.

Citations
1.) Stuart Macdonald, The History and Philosophy of Art Education (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2004), p. 99

Bibliography
Susan Beattie, Alfred Stevens (London: Victorian & Albert Museum, 1975)
Kenneth Romney Towndrow Alfred Stevens (Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery, 1951)

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Prophet Daniel' (study for a mosaic in St Paul's Cathedral), Alfred Stevens

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Categories

Paintings; Designs; Christianity

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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